New reports by the IMD and NASA reveal that the world is getting warmer. These rising temperatures mean shrinking global wealth, a dip in productivity and agricultural production
Recent reports by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) and NASA point at the climate crisis threatening the world today. The IMD in its annual report on the country's climate revealed that 2021 was the fifth warmest year since 1901. The past decade 2012- 2021 has also been described as the warmest decade by the premier public agency. The report made note of heavier rainfall, cyclones, floods that left many affected.
The Climate crisis has several costs attached to it. One of them is economic. The World Meteorological Organization’s State of the Climate in Asia report estimated India’s loss from tropical cyclones, floods and droughts to be Rs.65 lakh crore in 2020.
Natural disasters cost us dearly
In 2020, the annual rainfall was 105 per cent of its long-period average (LPA); during southwest monsoon season (June to September) was 99 per cent of LPA. The 2021 Northeast/ post-monsoon season (October-December) rainfall over the country as a whole was above normal (144 per cent of LPA).
India witnessed five cyclones in 2021 - extremely severe cyclonic storm Tauktae; very severe cyclonic storm YAAS; severe cyclonic storm Shaheen; Gulab and Jawad.
According to the IMD report, heavy rainfall and flood-related incidents claimed over 750 lives last year while thunderstorms and lightning claimed more than 780 lives in different parts of the country. Of the 750 deaths due to heavy rainfall events, 215 deaths were reported in Maharashtra, 143 in Uttarakhand, 55 in Himachal Pradesh, 53 in Kerala and 46 in Andhra Pradesh.
Maharashtra was the most adversely affected state during 202. The state reported more than 340 deaths, mainly due to extremely heavy rainfall, floods, landslides, lightning, cyclonic storms and cold-wave events.
India’s GDP at risk
In its report released last year, Deloitte Economics Institute had revealed that climate inaction puts 80 per cent of India’s GDP at risk. At the same time, it could gain Rs 810 lakh crore in economic value in the next 50 years by limiting the rising global temperatures. Services, manufacturing, retail and tourism and transport will be the worst hit by climate change.
2018 and 2021 were the 6th warmest years: NASA
Just a couple of days before the IMD report, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), USA also put forth some troubling facts. NASA observed that the earth’s global average surface temperatures in 2018 and 2021 made them the sixth warmest on record. NASA uses the period from 1951-1980 as a baseline to see how global temperature changes over time.
NASA noted that Earth in 2021 was about 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit (or about 1.1 degrees Celsius) warmer than the late 19th-century average.
Decline in global wealth
Yet another organisation made the economic ramifications of the climate crisis last year. Swiss Re, an eminent reinsurance company based in Zurich, said that if the Paris Agreement and 2050 net-zero emissions targets are not achieved, the world could possibly lose 10 per cent of total economic value from climate change by mid-century.
Rising temperatures will cause a dip in agricultural production, rise in diseases and damage to coastal cities. This would mean a decrease in global wealth by 2050. Asian economies, particularly that of south and southeast Asia were described as most vulnerable to the physical risks associated with climate change. India was among the top five countries which are most vulnerable to economic risks.
The report said, “Higher temperatures and more extreme drought events could severely reduce labour productivity as a result of heat stress and health effects. The agriculture and tourism sectors, which account for about 18 per cent and 9 per cent of total GDP in 2019 respectively, could also face significant economic damage.”