As every shivering Indian knows, this has been an unusually cold winter, more so in the North. Even as temperatures have plunged, there is no hope of respite in the next few days, as the Meteorological Department predicts that the cold wave will persist. The weather conditions have made life difficult for people, and many activities have been curtailed. Both air and surface travel have been affected. Schools have been closed for a few days in some places. The number of casualties from accidents has, mercifully, been relatively low.
Over the past couple of decades, the weather has become less predictable. Extreme swings have had a detrimental effect on the economy as well as daily life. Farmers, particularly, suffered the most from the vagaries of weather, as they depend on it the most. Unseasonably high rains a few months ago played havoc with crops, and exposed the underlying weakness in our infrastructure, as towns flooded and buildings collapsed. Central and state administrations need to chalk out plans to tackle challenges that extreme weather conditions pose.
Global warming is taking its toll, and India is aware of this problem. However, not enough is being done. Fossil fuels, a significant pollutant, are still not being discouraged. Indeed, under the plea of ‘development,’ green areas are being levelled. Coal-burning thermal plants have not been phased out; rather, they are being encouraged. There is talk of shifting the deadline for Bharat VI emission controls, which would significantly cut down pollution in new vehicles. Not enough incentives are being given for battery-operated cars and hybrid vehicles. Industrial pollution is going through the roof, poisoning air, water and soil. Even as we shiver in the cold winds, it is time to remember our duty towards the environment and do what we can to make life on the planet sustainable. Scientists have long predicted the disruption of weather patterns due to global warming. We are now suffering from those effects.
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