Syllabus: General Studies Essay Paper: Environment
Alternative technologies for a climate change resilient India.
“Climate change is the environmental challenge of this generation, and it is imperative that we act before it’s too late.” – John Delaney
The global community is facing a major problem called, “CLIMATE CHANGE”. The unpredictability and extreme conditions of climate is making an unsuitable habitat to sustain. The word climate refers to the average state of everyday’s weather over a period of 30 years. But now, it’s changing every year. The nations of the world and various organizations came forward to protect the environment and are trying to regain what we lost in the past.
‘Kaa barakhaa, jab krishi sukhanee’. Loosely translated as ‘What’s the use of that untimely rain, after the crop has dried up’, this line from the RamCharit Manas by Tulsidas is slowly resurfacing as a haunting reality. India, where agriculture accounts for 16% of the country’s GDP and 49% of the total employment, is unsustainably reliant on seasonal rainfall for its produce. And climate change, resulting in erratic rainfall patterns over the year, has been exacerbating the problem. The fact that 73 million out of 141 million hectares of net sown area is still unirrigated and rainfed. This means, more than half of the total land under agriculture is still dependent entirely on the monsoonal rains. The Indian monsoon are a very complicated weather phenomena and a small disturbance on one link can disturb the rainfall pattern throughout. Extremes of weather are very harmful to the crops.
So how exactly are we going to be more resilient to the whims of erratic weather?
Rainwater harvesting is a very useful way to ensure regular and sufficient amount of water to our farmlands. Water harvesting dams or Nalla bunds; construction of Anicuts etc. ensure that we have enough water during the lean season. Moreover, these structures can also serve as the sink in case of excessive rainfall and also help recharge the underwater aquifers. An example can be given of the Mukhyamantri Jal Swabalambam Abhiyan in Rajasthan, where multifaceted efforts to increase the water tables in parched lands is giving good results.
Greenhouse technology is another very important technique where the crops are grown under partially or fully controlled conditions to get optimum growth and productivity from them. Year round production of the crops are possible under a greenhouse, which helps against the adverse climatic conditions such as heat, cold, wind, excessive radiation, frost, insects etc. The relatively modern techniques of hydroponics, aeroponics etc. are possible only under a greenhouse.
Government of India’s National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture which aims to support climate adaptation in agriculture through the development of climate-resilient crops, expansion of weather insurance mechanisms, and agricultural practices.
However, agriculture is not the only sector vulnerable to the vagaries of climate change. Infrastructure sector, health energy, drinking water etc. are few other sectors that are equally at risk and are capable of affecting millions across the globe. Looking into the future, one can make an inference that without timely interventions in the appropriate direction, it would not be easy to sustain the large human population.
The best example for climate change can be explained with Chennai. The MEGA FLOOD IN CHENNAI-2016, made the city float in water but now in 2019, the residents are longing for a litre of drinking water. In case of north west (churu – Rajasthan), it is holding a record of hottest ever recorded temperatures in India this year (123.8 f) and having 32 long days of hot winds blowing.
How much are we prepared for this challenge? Necessity is the mother of all inventions. Technological interventions to inject the much needed push in the affected sectors is the way ahead for us.
The main climatic issue faced by India are floods during monsoons and extreme heat during peak summer simultaneously at two sides of our Nation. The dream project of APJ sir is the ultimate project to sustain our self against climatic change. The project got its base from GANGA-CAUVERY LINK CANAL project by Dr .K L. Rao (1972) and NATIONAL GARLAND CANAL scheme in 1977 by Captain Dinshaw J. Dastur. By the combination of these projects the scheme can hold up to 600-900 billion TMC of water in the canal. Through this nationalized canal we can transport water from “WATER SURPLUS” area to “WATER DEFICIENT” area. This water can help in various ways and also this canal can be used as a NATIONAL WATERWAY, which in turn makes Indian transportation eco-friendly and sustainable.
When it comes to Energy usage Per capita energy consumption is going to increase tremendously in the future. A higher growth rate is a direct function of energy consumption. With the summer getting warmer, the energy requirement for artificial cooling will see a rapid increase during the peak season in India. However, with more than 70% of energy in India derived from coal based and gas based thermal power plant, a higher consumption is not something that is particularly cheerful.
But, in recent years, a number of breakthroughs in greener and affordable energy technologies augurs well for a hopeful future. Solar energy is harnessed using a range of ever evolving technologies such as solar heating, photovoltaics, solar thermal etc. Solar Photovoltaic cells (solar PVs) are devices for converting incident solar energy into electricity with an efficiency of over 20%. In a solar energy rich country like
India, PVs held a great potential. India has set sight for 100 GW of grid connected solar energy capacities by 2022. The International Solar Alliance, headquartered in India, shows the seriousness of India regarding the issue.
National Solar Mission, India is in the sunny zone of the world. It receives solar energy equivalent to more than 5000 trillion KWH per year, which is far more than its annual energy consumption. If this abundant solar energy is harnessed properly, it not only solves country’s energy demand by also lowers air pollution and saves various sources that give energy to the nation. It also helps to the former mission effectively.
Solar Thermal energy can also be used to produce electricity, which has significantly less carbon footprint than conventional technologies. Apart from solar energy, wind energy, which has the largest share in India’s renewable energy sector can also bridge the gap between production and demand. Ocean thermal energy, tidal energy are few other alternative technologies that can help rotate the turbine without deteriorating the environment.
Climate change is going to have interesting implications on infrastructure sector. Concrete have a lower albedo; in other words, they absorb a very high percentage of the incoming radiation. The big cities are therefore termed as ‘heat island’. The architectural fallacy of using glass along the exterior of high rise buildings in tropical countries like India, are creating a kind of greenhouse effect, which are not very efficient in terms of energy consumption. Utilising materials, which can reflect back the heat, rather than trapping it, would be the way forward. An interesting innovation is painting the roads and terraces in white paint, which reflects back the sunlight significantly. With proper architectural interventions, our infrastructures can be made more sustainable and resilient to the weather extremities.
The health impacts of climate change include increases in heat related illness and death, extreme weather related injuries and mortality; spread of infectious diseases, growing malnutrition and child development complications etc. Warm and moist environment are conducive for the reproductions of various disease carrying agents like mosquitoes, rats, cockroaches etc.
Information technology can be an effective tool in disseminating the knowledge among the people regarding the impact of climate change on health. An interesting innovation doing round in the scientific community is the use of CRISPR to edit the gene of mosquitoes and using it to eradicate a particular species from an area. Moreover, fortification of food using vital nutrients can help fight against malnutrition. Common salt fortified with iodine has helped overcome the menace of goitre among the masses.
Apart from all that are discussed, proper storage facilities for food grains, adequate innovations to ensure supply of pure drinking water to all, proper nutrition and sanitation to all etc. are required to be taken care of in systematic manner to ensure that climate change can be tackled in a positive manner.
The climate is majorly affected by pollutants emitted from internal combustion engine vehicles. This ambitious project of India was started in 2013 to switch from internal combustion engine to electric and hybrid engines by achieving 6-7 million sales of electric vehicles by the year 2020 onwards. Even though its aim to national fuel security, the project will considerably reduce the pollutants from vehicles and give way favour to climate and environment.
Indian government is coming up with various schemes, projects and proposals for the welfare of climate and environment. These will remove the factors that affect climate and adaptation to new climatic conditions.
National Action Plan on Climatic Change: This eight folded plan was initiated in 2008 to address the future policies and mission for climate mitigation and adaptation. It identifies the measures that promote our development objectives while also yielding co-benefits for tackling climatic change effectively.
The mission include, National Mission for “green India”: Which aims at the afforestation of 6 million hectares of degraded forest lands and expanding forest cover from 23% to 33% of India’s territory? Several other milestones – missions under NAPCC are, National mission for enhanced energy efficiency. National mission on sustainable habitat. National water mission National mission for sustaining the Himalayan eco-system. National mission on strategic knowledge for climate change. Electricity act-2003 Energy conservation act -2001.
Climate change is a very big challenge in front of the humanity. To ensure that we have chance to tackle the consequences, all of us must put in a collective effort towards the same.
India, with the second highest population and a diverse set of climatic conditions will be one of the adversely affected countries due to its vulnerability to the vagaries of climate change. Innovations, big or small, can help us to be resilient towards the climate change. Climate change cannot be changed by a single plan or initiatives, by the government. It should be done by individuals. Start planting plants and protect our environment. A collective effort form all the stakeholders is the need of the hour.
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