Felt the chill in Delhi lately? If you are one of the many who thought that you would freeze to death on an especially chilly Monday morning, welcome to the effects of global warming.
We’ve almost always treated the phenomenon of global warming with kid gloves. We’ve read about it, and we throw the term around in casual conversation quite often without actually realizing its (very) immediate implications. So we’re aware that the polar caps are melting quickly, that glaciers are under threat, and that the penguins will soon be extinct if quick measures are not undertaken. To simply put it, we’ve got the technical jargon of this phenomenon down pat; we can talk of ‘greenhouses’, chlorofluorocarbons’ and ‘ozone’ in the same breath while describing them, but are we aware that the eventuality of that almost-mystified phenomenon is closer than we think?
There is this peculiar method of fitting everything we think about global warming in the future tense. “In a few years; in the future; scientists predict that…”
. However, the truth is somewhat different. Global Warming is showing signs of climate change much faster than expected.
The Met Department has predicted that Friday this week, which is the 1st of February, will witness a zero-degree temperature. It reaches zero and minus for certain parts of Rajasthan and U.P; but in Delhi its been a rare case. While on the one hand, we’re taught that it can never snow in Delhi (because of it being surrounded by hills, and being a plain); Monday had most of us amusingly proclaiming that perhaps, a snowy Delhi (a la, the movie Day After Tomorrow) is not such an impossible occurrence. According to an article in the Hindu Business Line, ‘Global warming is the observed increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s near-surface and oceans in recent decades and its projected continuation. The models referenced by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have predicted that global temperatures are likely to increase by 1.1°C to 6.4°C between 1990 and 2100. The increase of 8.3°C in three years is more ominous than the worst predictions of the IPCC on rising temperatures. The effect is not uniform in all areas of India, but can be felt in various degrees.’ At this rate, according to columnist Sharad Joshi, the ‘peak temperature in Delhi this summer may touch 50°C. It was earlier forecast that the highest temperature this summer in Kanpur would be around 52°C.’It will take a while for the common man to wake up to the perils of an intimate enemy who keeps announcing its arrival. Until then, our summers will get hotter, and our winters more chaotic. The weather will, perhaps, increase as per its mood swings. As a species, we may well be acclimatizing ourselves to the weather, but it does not take away the fact that global warming is definitely not a distant phenomenon. We often read in our science textbooks- ‘scientists predict in the next 20-50 years….’- however, global warming is coming faster than that. In fact, it’s already here.Shruti Rao