The year 2020 saw a record number of hurricanes, wildfires, and storms, resulting in billions of dollars in damages worldwide. With natural disasters becoming a new constant, it is expected that this year too it will not be any different. In February, Texas, a US state known for heat waves and deserts, was engulfed in thick snow. Closer home, in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, a massive avalanche tore through a mountain gorge and smashed through two dams killing many. These erratic and adverse events have made it clear that climate change is an impending catastrophe and glacier and ice sheet mass loss is one of the major impacts of this.
A recent study has found that in this century so far 480,000 people have died because of natural disasters related to extreme weather conditions. Amidst these challenging times, we received some welcoming news too. The second largest carbon emitter of the world, the United States officially returned to the Paris climate accord and vowed to make the fight against climate change its top priority.
With this issue of TerraGreen, we again strive to forge a sustainable link between humans and nature. Scientists have found that medicinal mushrooms are effective against different infections and inflammatory disorders. These mushrooms also help in the treatment of lung inflammation that often follows COVID-19 infection. This month’s cover story is on mushrooms, which grow in all sizes and shapes and you might find them anywhere on ground or on wood during the rainy season. For ages, mushrooms have trigged curiosity among a large number of artists and writers. Wrongly believed to be a plant, it is actually a saprophyte as it lacks chlorophyll and obtains nutrition by metabolizing non-living organic matter.
Food security is in jeopardy. The chief cause of this is increasing pressure on natural resources and climate change, both of which threaten the sustainability of food systems at large. Hunger has to be eradicated but only in conjunction with sustainable agriculture and food systems practices. For India, climate change is an additional stressor. It is time that we revive sustainable management practices of biological resources to ensure the country’s overall food, nutritional, and strategic security. This month’s Feature helps the readers to reflect on the existing programmes, schemes and activities of the government in place to assess the impact of climate change on the important ecosystems; and deliberate a way forward.
The Special Report discusses that though 2020 was an unprecedented year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate disruption continued apace. The 2011–020 decade was the warmest decade on record, in a persistent long-term climate change trend. It is essential that in order to boost the Earth’s immune system, global actions are accelerated with political commitment and will of governments to unleash human ingenuity. In 2020, COVID-19 related lockdowns helped in reducing carbon emissions and improved air quality in certain regions. However, these were short-term environment gains. If we wish to ensure that the world continues to be liveable for the future generations, we have to act now.