Climate Change And Kashmir

melting glaciers

(Extraordinarily hot weather in Kashmir is part of the Global Climate change due to which many parts of the world have been experiencing freak weather)

Kashmir has been experiencing very hot weather in the month of June. According to MET sources sometimes the temperature has been more than 8 degrees above normal for the same period in previous years! In contrast to hot days, the mornings are comparatively cooler for this time of the year. Something like a desert climate! This unusual climate has been creating problems all over the world. However, it has not happened just at once but has been happening gradually over the years and we are noticing it only now because of the various cumulative effects which are peaking during the present time. The experts have been warning about the climate change for a long time but the people have not been heeding their forecasts about various damaging effects which our planet is gradually suffering. In Kashmir, the effects of the climate change have been studied in detail by the department of Earth Sciences in the University of Kashmir which is headed by a well-known scientist Shakil Romshoo. A study of nine bench mark glaciers conducted by the department reveals that between 1980 and 2013, these glaciers have shrunk by 17%. The total glaciated area has been reduced from 29.01square kilometers to 23.81 kilometers. There has been corresponding reduction in the discharge of the rivers dependent on these glaciers. Another worry has been the shifting of the peak rainfall season from summer to spring which could have adverse effect on the agriculture due to water shortage in the required season!

One does not have to be an expert to notice the climate change. During mid-forties one remembers the amount of snowfall which the valley used to have. Sometimes the snow would fall so fast and heavy that people had to come out of their houses from the windows of the first floor! Many times the snow would fall so thick and fast that it looked like night during the middle of the day. Often the migratory birds flying around would get blinded and fall in peoples’ lawns! Those days there used to be thatched roofs or roofs of clay over wooden planks and everyone was out after every snowfall to clear snow from the rooftops. But now we hardly have few inches of snow in the city during winter.

The global climate change is the hottest topic all over the world these days. The arctic ice is melting fast and the sea level is gradually rising. Some predict a rise of 100 feet in the sea level! The experts have given alarming forecasts about the drastic effects of this climate change. With the rise in sea level many countries surrounded by sea may completely disappear. Even many coastal areas may go under water. Melting of glaciers will cause water shortages in many parts of the world. If one goes by the geological history, the warming of our planet may be followed by another ice-age! Unfortunately, this is not a natural process but a calamity brought upon mankind by mankind itself. The greatest culprit is supposed to be the emissions of harmful gases from motor vehicles, power plants and so on. There are many alternatives being tried to lessen emissions. These include automobiles working on electric power and so on. Apart from this is the depletion of the green cover. This is very true of our own state especially the valley. We have indiscriminately destroyed our forest cover which used to act as a filter for these emissions. The timber smugglers in connivance with the authorities have denuded mountains throughout the state. Another destructive factor has been the deliberate destruction of our water bodies by greedy people. We have virtually eaten away our lovely water bodies including the world famous Dal Lake which is in the last throes of death! In fact, the disastrous flood of 2014 too has been the result of this climate change brought upon us by our own greed.

Our worst tragedy is that neither the government nor the people in general seem to be either aware or even concerned about this catastrophe slowly happening. Both the governments as well as the people in general need to be woken up from the deep slumber. In fact, the state has a full-fledged organization called the Department of Ecology, Environment and Remote Sensing whose task is to take measures and set up projects to protect state’s environment. The effects of climate change and remedial measures to mitigate these effects should be their primary responsibility. According to their website, they have already completed 56 projects and have16 on-going projects regarding ecology and environment. However, what is most urgent is peoples’ participation in protecting the environment so that the effects of climate change are minimized. The ideal thing would be for all the leaders of all hues and shades to impress on the people to take care of environment and ecology. Even all the religious leaders can be motivated to take up this task. However, the million dollar question is will they do so? Well, on that rests the fate of our future generations!

Mohammad Ashraf, I.A.S. (Retired), Former Director General Tourism, Jammu & Kashmir


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