Blaming everything on global warming

Blaming everything on global warming
Highlights

Recently several articles related to global warming appeared in The Hans India and the recent one appeared on 5th March 2017. This type of surveys-observations from the air convey very little on the science of climate change. Ten year records become astonishing events, weather catastrophes of 50 or 100 years ago are forgotten.

Recently several articles related to global warming appeared in The Hans India and the recent one appeared on 5th March 2017. This type of surveys-observations from the air convey very little on the science of climate change. Ten year records become astonishing events, weather catastrophes of 50 or 100 years ago are forgotten.

It makes for good click bait but cripples our ability to prepare for the inevitable. In the last one year stories after stories were published internationally on the drought in California linking it to global warming. Now, California is reeling under heavy rain and snow falls. A 43-day storm that began in December 1861 put central and southern California underwater for up to six months.

Proverbs on climate with the reference to seasons [in Telugu] were built based on the experience of our forefathers and also they are part of Astrological Panchangas. In the last few days, the media is agog with the heat. In fact, the extreme temperatures are not new to this part of India. According to 1931-1960 Normal [Red] Book of IMD, Hyderabad reached 37.2, 42.2, 43.3 & 44.4 oC in February, March, April and May respectively.

Present conditions haven’t crossed these limits. Also clear skies present high diurnal variations and cloudy skies present low diurnal variations. These are controlled by local “climate system – atmosphere, hydrosphere, crystosphere, land surface, biosphere--” and “general circulation patterns – wind patterns --” at any given location and region. Pollution also influences the climate, particularly in winter with temperature inversion layer formations.

Earth’s climate is dynamic and always changing through natural cycles. What we are experiencing now is part of this system. Droughts and floods form part of natural variability in climate and form main part of the climate change. These are beyond human control. We need to adapt to them. Agriculture was adapted to such vagaries by our forefathers; they built location-specific technologies in terms of farming systems.

However, with the increased interference of humans on nature, the natural variations are being modified at local and regional scales. The combination of these is known as climate change. Also, meteorological parameters are inter-related and mutually interactive. Natural variability consists of irregular variations that include “intra-seasonal & intra-annual” variations and “systematic variations” expressed by fluctuations or cyclic variations of different durations. In the case of temperature, the man-induced variations have two components. They are changes through greenhouse effect and non-greenhouse effect.

Global warming is a part of greenhouse effect associated with the anthropogenic greenhouse gases. The non-greenhouse effect is termed as ecological changes associated with the changes in land and water use and cover, generally expressed by urban-heat-island effect and rural-cold-island effect. The human-induced change is expressed as trend. Thus, climate change is not global warming; but global warming is only one part of human-induced changes of climate change.

In the global (land and ocean) temperature anomaly of adjusted data series 1880 to 2010, the trend presented an increase of 0.6 oC per Century of which around 50% is the global warming component – 0.3 oC per Century. The satellite observational data series show half of this only [0.15 oC], as it considers urban-heat-island and rural-cold-island effects unlike ground- based measurements in a balanced way.

With all this, unfortunately, it has become a ritual, to attribute every weather event to El Nino or Global Warming without looking into weather and climate of the regions. In 2014, WMO Secretary General in his World Meteorological Day release attributed the 2013 drought and warm conditions prevailing in the Southern Hemisphere to global warming following the footsteps of IPCC and the Ethiopian drought conditions were attributed to El Nino by FAO Representative in Ethiopia. In fact, they are part of natural variations which was discussed in my book as back as 1993.

Nature is being destroyed by both natural disasters such as cyclonic activity, earthquakes, volcanic activity, tsunamis, etc; and activities to meet human greed such as wars, oil-gas-water extraction, physical destruction of ecologically sensitive zones and destruction of natural water flow systems, violation of acts or laws, etc are often attributed to global warming.

The flood disasters in Uttarkhand in June 2013; Jammu and Kashmir in September 2014; November-December 2015 in Chennai & Nellore; September 2000 in Hyderabad are the manifestations of human greed. Now governments are wrongly putting the blame on global warming. Indian institutions are making even Prime Minister to make false statements like “Chennai floods are associated with the Global Warming.” We must realise the fact that “ignorance is terrible but exaggeration is dangerous.”

Even at the recent 104th (2017) India Science Congress in Tirupati such statements were made by prominent people and also presented all-India Southwest Monsoon Rainfall is decreasing but on the contrary it presents a 60-year cycle wherein choice of data set in a sine curve define increasing or decreasing trend. It is like our proverbial saying “There is Tiger, here is the Tail” and in line with this “There is global warming, here is the impact.” (Writer is Convenor, Forum for a Sustainable Environment, Hyderabad)

By Dr S Jeevananda Reddy

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