Impact of Global Warming on Jammu and Kashmir – Kashmir Reader
Temperature of the region has increased by 1.2 degree Celsius over the last century, higher than the global average of 0.8 to 0.9 degree Celsius
Global warming is the long-term warming of the planet’s overall temperature. Though this warming trend has been going on for a long time, its pace has significantly increased in the last hundred years due to burning of fossil fuels. As the human population has increased, so has the volume of fossil fuels being burned. The Earth’s temperature has risen by 0.4 degree Fahrenheit (0.08 degree Celsius) per decade since 1880, but the rate of warming since 1981 is more than twice, i.e., 0.32 degree Fahrenheit (0.18 degree Celsius) per decade. As per NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), temperature data prior to the year 2021 was recorded as the sixth-warmest year. The predominant reason was increase in greenhouse gases produced by human activities. This increase in greenhouse gases has risen the temperature of earth’s atmosphere, which is melting glaciers at a higher pace. It will melt all the glaciers in the Himalayan region, which is called the water tower of Asia, and will change the livelihood of millions of people as it provides about 8.6 million cubic meters of water per annum to Asian countries and this region covers an area of 33,000 sq. kilometers.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the temperature is rising at a higher rate in comparison to the world average. The temperature of the region has increased by 1.2 degree Celsius over the last century, higher than the global average of 0.8 to 0.9 degree Celsius. This sudden increase in temperature has impacted life in Kashmir in various aspects. Firstly, agriculture fields have been hit badly due to dry spell conditions that persist in Kashmir’s monsoon season. The farmers of the valley are pessimistic of reaping any crop this year amid rainfall scarcity. According to IMD (India Meteorological Department) the valley received largely 80% deficient rainfall this year due to the absence of any strong western disturbances or the Mediterranean, which bring moisture. Due to these dry conditions and water scarcity, the irrigated rice, wheat and mustard production may be reduced by 6%, 4% and 4% respectively.
This deficit in food production in the Kashmir region has reached 4 percent while the deficit of vegetable production is 3% and is 69% for oilseed production. As a matter of fact, Kashmir, which was supposed to produce ample rice and wheat is now producing these cereals in meagre amounts, and if the change of climate continues at the same pace, Kashmir will very soon be importing every bit of its food from neighbouring states.
Saffron production in the valley has a historical background and Jammu and Kashmir is the only state in India that produces saffron for commercial purpose. According to the Department of Agriculture Kashmir, this production has declined by 65% over the past two decades from 16 metric tons to 5.6 metric tons due to lack of irrigation and climate change impacts.
Secondly, these dry spell conditions will make a severe dent on Kashmir’s tourism industry. The absence of snowfall will result in the shutting of snow sports. Kashmir’s famous tourist resort, Gulmarg, attracts tourists from all over the world, but the resort will remain deserted in the absence of snowfall. The Thajwas Glacier (also known as Hidden Jewel of Kashmir), a major tourist attraction in Kashmir’s Sonamarg, is melting at a rapid pace. Before 20 years, this glacier was spread over a huge area and tourists were able to get a glimpse of it by just walking only a few meters. But now they need to walk kilometers to see the glacier.
Thirdly, it causes the extinction of domestic and wild animals because of rising temperature that affects vegetation, grazing fields, food sources, access to water and much more. Ecosystems may become uninhabitable for certain animals, forcing wild animals to migrate outside of their usual patterns in search of food and liveable conditions, while causing other animals to die.
In conclusion, considering the deadly nature of the effects of global warming and because global warming is primarily a product of human activities, there is need for collective responsibility to save Mother Nature. Failure to this can lead to innumerable devastating calamities that will greatly jeopardise the well-being of both present and future generations.
The writer is a BA 5th semester student at Govt Degree College Sogam (Lolab), Kupwara. [email protected]