Monday, January 3, 2011

2010: The Year of Climate Change Records:

The year 2010 has witnessed a few climate records that has mounted evidence of climate change the world over.

* It marked the end of the warmest decade since climate records were kept.

* It has been one of the three warmest years recorded, since 1850.

* It has also been the year with the most extreme climate anomalies. with 3 degrees above normal across Greenland, eastern Canada and the sub-Arctic; record high temperatures in Russia (7.6 degree Celsius above normal); and accelerated glacial melt of world's mountains and Arctic ice sheets. This was supported by rising sea levels and expanding thermal effect of warmer waters, revealed by ocean monitoring and satellite data.

As the extreme weather patterns continued their drumbeat of climate change warnings through the year, "the proof was on the ground for all to see".

While record flooding swamped Pakistan; Russia was engulfed in raging forest fires that destroyed 40 per cent of grain crops and razed entire villages, even threatening Moscow; mudslides swallowed villages in China with a death count of 1400 in a single province (Gansu); cropping patterns changed drastically in many parts and the insurance industry sat up to take stock of the emerging situation. So by the time, the climate negotiators met at Cancun, climate change was no longer a distant risk, but a harsh reality that was already being felt all over the world.

As Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in Britain, said:

"The pattern of these events and frequency of these events is due to climate change."

What's more, for the first time the losses faced on account of extreme weather patterns and seasonal anomalies are being quantified, with U.K. declaring a pay-out of 4.5 billion pounds (nearly $7 billion) for flooding damage this year compared with only 1.5 billion pounds ($2.3 billion) in the previous 10 years.

"There is a relatively modest cost of dealing with this (climate change) problem and a massive catastrophic cost of doing nothing".

In India, many parts have recorded the lowest Winter temperature in decades with heavy fogs, and in summer witnessed unprecedented high temperatures with erratic rainfall patterns through the year.

What India requires is not only quantification of money incurred on account of climate-change -induced losses (from low agriculture yields or fatalities, flooding, damage to property and resultant increase in insurance claims); but also from possible losses on account of imbalances in the ecosystem (disappearing wetlands, decreased forest cover, vanishing bio-diversities). for sustainable policy-making and grassroots level initiatives.

The steep rise in onion through 2010, is just one example of the extent of mayhem climate change can wreak in daily lives. So as we usher in 2011, it remains to be seen as to what extent our carbon-footprint-conscious polity translates into concrete measures, both on the development and on the mitigation fronts. Floods, extreme weather patterns, intense cyclones, rising sea levels, disappearing wetlands and glacial melt are all here to stay, affecting every region of the country. Climate deniers and sceptics, procrastinating bureaucrats and lackadaisical governance have no place today in this grim real-time situation confronting the populace all over.


  1. This is a great article. I want to note, however you mentioned this is was the warmest year among three other years, who's to say we aren't just in a cycle then and not global warming?