The Heat Is On: Doomsday Not Far Off


The forecast is scary. Maximum temperature in Odisha this summer is likely to be 0.9 Celsius higher than 'normal'. Coming as it did a year after what has now been universally accepted as the 'hottest year' on earth since 1880, the forecast issued by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Monday must have left a lot of people in the state already sweating.

If the forecast for this summer is scary, the consistent rise in global temperature over the last 100-150 years or so is scarier. Every decade during this period has been warmer than the previous one. It is now almost certain that the goal of limiting the rise in global surface temperature to within 2 degrees Centigrade more than pre-industrial levels, as agreed upon in the Paris Climate Agreement in December, 2015, will not be met. Let us take India, a signatory to the agreement, as a test case to understand why the goal is unlikely to be met. As its part of the bargain, the country is committed to reducing emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) by as much 35% by 2030. But with India striving hard to take the fast road to industrialization, the chances of such a target being met is anybody's guess.

Scientists have repeatedly warned us that failure to keep the rise in temperature within this limit will be catastrophic because it would make the effects of climate change irreversible. Sea levels could rise alarmingly and whole regions and populations – both human and animal – could be wiped out if mitigation measures are not taken well in time to keep things under check.

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