It’s strange weather. Summer’s here, but the chill continues. It’s still too early for the monsoons, but it’s been raining like there’s no tomorrow.
Newspapers say that farmers are killing themselves across India, because they have lost their crops (and their life’s savings) to freak weather–heavy rains and hailstorms when there should have been none.
What’s this weather? Why is it so? My grandpa is surprised to see it raining at this time of the year–and so heavily too.
Seventy-five years old, he thinks this is freak weather, and blames the gods for it.
I told him what my school teacher had explained a day ago – about extreme weather events, and how climate change is leading to many such events across the country and the world.
Together, we looked back at some of these freaky disasters.
The 21st century will witness a likely increase in the frequency of heavy rain. Heat waves
have nearly 90 to 100 per cent probability of becoming more intense with a rise in their duration and frequency over most areas.
Cyclones, or typhoons or hurricanes, are likely to have stronger wind speed in future.
Odd? Maybe not…
Extreme weather events, my teacher had said, are unusual, freaky weather incidents. Sudden heavy rainfall, heat waves, droughts, floods, cyclones, and extremely cold spells – all qualify as such events if they are intense. Say, a city gets the entire season’s average rainfall in just one day! It happened in Mumbai, in 2005. Imagine gulping down your entire month’s breakfast in a day!
Usually, such incidents lead to a lot of deaths and destruction of property where they occur.
Is the Earth’s fever to be blamed?
Our planet is becoming warmer with each passing day, which is bringing about a lot of changes in the local weather. Land and ocean temperatures have risen by 0.85 degree Celsius, says the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The scientists on this panel now agree that the changing climate is leading to changes in the frequency, intensity, spatial extent, duration and timing of extreme weather events.
Climate change, however, cannot entirely be blamed for these extreme weather events. We human beings are also at fault. Emissions from our industries, cars and other products lead to global warming. Our ways of development trigger catastrophes – for example, the floods in Mumbai or Srinagar became so disastrous because we constructed buildings on or close to these cities’ water bodies – choking them and making sure the flood waters couldn’t drain away!