Page 3 - The Catastrophic Kerala Floods - Linked to Climate Change and Global Warming
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Kerala floods warn us about the

potential harm we are doing to our
delicate ecosystem.

I t is evident that global warming is shifting rainfall patterns, making heavy rain more
frequent in many parts of the world. With human alteration of the land and rivers,
many parts of the world are at greater risk of experiencing devastating floods. With
rising global temperatures due to increased heat-trapping emissions, more water vapour
evaporates from the land and oceans. Also, modern land use practices have left our
landscape less able to accommodate heavy rainfall, increasing the risk of floods, and
intensifying their impacts.
This month, our cover story titled, ‘The Catastrophic Kerala Floods: Linked to Climate
Change and Global Warming ’ discusses the possible factors responsible for the Kerala
floods and also cautions that unrestrained human-induced climate change would further
lead to shifting forms of weather conditions globally resulting in heavy rains, and extreme
heat waves and cold conditions. One of the prominent causes for this natural calamity
could be the illegal quarrying, squandering sand mining, unrestricted deforestation, and
illegal constructions which changed the normal rainwater draining topography of the state.
The exploited soil could not absorb the torrential rain and allowed the water to quickly run-
off, flooding the drains, streams, and rivers, inducing flash-floods and landslides.
Apparently, most of the locations affected by the rains and flood in Kerala were
demarcated as ecologically-sensitive zones (ESZs) by the Gadgil Commission in 2011. The
Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), formed by the Government of India and
chaired by Madhav Gadgil recommended classifying the 140,000 sq. km of the Western
Ghats into three ESZs for protection. The outcome of the report was not implemented
and it certainly exposed the vulnerability of the state. We need to implement such
recommendations and results of the studies in the future. Kerala floods warn us about
the potential harm we are doing to our delicate ecosystem. It showcases how our greed
for short-term infrastructure developments will lead to a lasting long-term impact on our
vulnerable Earth. We need stronger conviction, broader interest, and a decisive political will
to safeguard the interests of the state and its people.
The feature article this month throws light on the fact that rapid industrialization
and adoption of advanced technologies over the last few decades have indiscriminately
increased hazardous waste generation in India. Lack of treatment and disposal facilities
causes hazardous wastes to ravage municipal landfills and open spaces, raising serious
environmental threats. A recent joint study by The Associated Chambers of Commerce of
India and PricewaterhouseCoopers shows that hazardous wastes in India are mounting
at a rate of 2–5 per cent per year, a sharp and concerning surge and approximately 10–15
per cent of industrial waste in India is hazardous. India will be extremely vulnerable in the
coming years if rapid steps are not taken to address the emerging challenges of hazardous
waste. The article also lists a few possible solutions that could be used as remedies against
hazardous waste.

Ajay Mathur
Director General, TERI
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