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Climate Change in Himachal Pradesh: How are Kinnaur’s Apples being Affected by it?

Rains are increasing, snowfall is declining, and temperatures are rising, which all have great impact on an area prone to landslides and fed by glacial melt

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Apple Production in kinnaur is severally hit due to Climate change. Pixabay

Kinnaur, May 29, 2017: On April 16, Roshan Lal Negi woke up to find snow carpeting the courtyard of his home in Jangi village. Boys with smartphones quickly made videos to share on WhatsApp but more than a month later, the snow — now filthy — still sits on the lower parts of most peaks in Kinnaur district, Himachal Pradesh.

Particles from a dust storm in the northern plains might have travelled to Kinnaur and mixed with the unseasonal snowfall, suggests Manmohan Singh, Director of the meteorological centre in Shimla, giving the dusty appearance. The jury is still out, but most agree that this rain shadow region is experiencing a drastic shift in its weather patterns.

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Rains are increasing, snowfall is declining, and temperatures are rising, which all have great impact on an area prone to landslides and fed by glacial melt.

“Nobody in cities is bothered about what’s happening in Kinnaur. We are frequently facing such unusual weather events,” Negi says.

Droughts and excess rainfall are more frequent and more intensely felt due to the shift in farming, from coarse grains to commercial plantations of apple and green peas.

Winter snowfall is also now more spread out. “The heavy snow in December and January has declined and there’s increased activity in February and March,” says S.S. Randhawa, Senior Scientific Officer at the State Council for Science, Technology and Environment.

The decadal average number of rainy days has increased by 43 per cent, from 77.4 days in 1980-90 to 111 days in 2000-2010, according to data from the National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture.

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The number of dry spells during the Kharif season, on the other hand, shrank to 10-15 days, while most dry spells between 1980 and 1990 lasted more than 20. This increased rainfall leads to a greater erosion of fertile topsoil, and infestations of pests that thrive in the humidity.

Kinnaur is famous for big and brightly-coloured apples, features caused by low night temperatures. Historically, the amount of crop lost to inclement weather has been low.

In April and May, while apple trees in neighbouring Shimla district and adjoining hills are adorned with white nets to protect against hailstorms, orchards in Kinnaur enjoy clear weather. But increasing rainfall and declining snowfall is pushing people out of this routine.

Cooler winter temperatures are important to induce dormancy, bud break and to ensure proper flowering in apples. But less snow, also reported in other parts of Himachal Pradesh, means that this crucial cool factor is not met, affecting apple quality and quantity.

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Apple growers in Kinnaur’s low- and mid-altitude hills felt that rising temperatures had affected production, but farmers at more than 3,000 metres reported no decline due to temperature, according to a 2013 study. Most growers also reported a shift in the apple harvesting period due to increasing temperatures. The infestation of pests and diseases — including apple scab and canker — are some climate change indicators that increase the cost of production.

Four years later, things are worse. This April, a month which typically sees the flowering and setting of fruits, has witnessed light showers almost daily. “Rains reduce the chances of pollination as bees are more likely to stay in their hives,” says Rakesh Kumar, an entomologist at the Y.S. Pramar University of Horticulture and Forestry.

A traditionally dry region, the area does not have the means to deal with excess rainfall. Farms do not have proper drainage facilities as people never needed them. This causes waterlogging and diseases and insects which thrive on humidity.

Bhagat Singh Negi, a farmer in Rarang village, is worried that not even 30 per cent of apple trees will bear fruit. “New diseases crop up every year and even the chemicals we use are not as effective now. This year, many flowers dropped due to lack of pollination. It will be a difficult time for Kinnaur’s economy,” he says.

Extreme weather events are also catching people unaware. In 2015, the Pooh sub division received far less snow than usual, which dried the irrigation sources used to water apples. “We had to get water in tankers to save the trees. There was no harvest that year,” says Gurmeet Negi, who owns an apple orchard.

The villages of Tabo and Sunam in upper Kinnaur saw incessant rain in June 2014, usually a dry month, which led to an infestation of ascochyta blight of the green pea crop. As a result, the market value of pea dropped drastically.

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Farmers in Kinnaur take great pride in their low use of agrochemicals, but now most villages are seeing a rise in chemical use. “Up until eight years ago, we used to spray chemicals only twice in a year,” says R.C. Negi of Thangi village. “Many would go without but now the frequency has gone up to seven sprays.”

Other climate-indusced change has to do with residential structures. Concrete is fast replacing locally-sourced wood and stone as the preferred building material while traditional flat mud roofs are giving way to metal pent roofs.

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“Increased rainfall in the historically-arid region erodes the flat mud roofs and wears away the mud-brick walls,” says Tasha Kimmet, an art historian from University of Vienna, who studied the economic, climatic and cultural shifts in the region. She found that besides the improvement in economic conditions and increased accessibility to imported building materials, people are also adapting to changing weather patterns.

“Some residents, who are concerned about preserving their traditional building styles, are experimenting with tarps and waterproofing clays as part of the flat roof layering system, or building the roof at a subtle gradient,” she says.

People in Kinnaur are used to living on the edge, but they have not yet to come to terms with sudden shifts in weather. And if this year’s dusty snow is any indication, the situation may not improve anytime soon.(IANS)

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Exclusive : Our Islands Are Vanishing! | Tracing the Inundation of Parali I Island

Looking at the current trend of harmful activities undertaken by humans, the world might have to be ready for losses that we are going to face because of climate change.

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Parali I
India has lost an entire island to erosion. Lakshadweep is no longer an archipelago of 36 islands (Representative image) Wikimedia

New Delhi, September 25, 2017: What if we told you that our landmasses are shrinking and disappearing under water? The earth’s climate is rapidly changing and life is at risk. Human impact on the environment, which first began when our ancestors began to stalk and collect the natural resources. It is now of such intensity that it threatens to radically amend the planet’s ecology – its climate, water, air, and even life.

The highly-dramatized Hollywood fiction film ‘2012’ left deep impressions on our minds, opening us to the possibility of a possible catastrophe. Rising sea levels that submerge complete islands were thought of as a distant possibility of this apocalyptic future. But in the idyllic Indian subcontinent, it seems that the destruction is here already.


The ‘Disappearance’ of Parali I

A report by PTI in early September revealed that the Parali I island, a biodiversity-rich uninhabited island of the Lakshadweep archipelago, has completely vanished due to coastal erosion.

R M Hidayathulla, a PhD scholar from the Calicut University in Kerala, made the revelations in his study titled “Studies on Coastal Erosion in Selected Uninhabited Islands of Lakshadweep Archipelago with Special Reference to Biodiversity Conservation.”

“We can say Lakshadweep now is not an archipelago of 36 islands,” Hidayathulla was quoted as saying.

In the study, Hidayathulla assessed the biodiversity confining to five uninhabited islands in the Lakshadweep archipelago – Bangaram, Thinnakara, Parali I, II and III.

Parali I, part of the Bangaram Atoll, that stretched across 0.032 km2 in 1968, has now eroded to a 100 per cent extent thus, resulting in its complete inundation.

Parali I
A few islands of the Lakshadweep archipelago. Bangaram atoll can be seen here. Wikimedia

Hidayathulla, in his study, has further claimed that a general trend of erosion has been noticed in almost all islands that were studied. Thus, while we have already lost one island, another four stand at risk of similar inundation.

According to distinguished climate expert, Mr Chandra Bhushan, the research by Hidayathulla is one of the few studies carried in India to establish the erosion and complete inundation of an island.

“India’s coasts and islands, which are densely populated, are highly vulnerable,” told Mr Bhushan, who is currently associated with the Centre for Science and Environment as deputy director general.

The Ghoramara village in the Sunderban delta, West Bengal, was the first region of the Indian territory to face the brunt of the rising water levels. More than 50 per cent of the village was inundated in the mid-2000s.

However, erosion of the Ghoramara was never paid much attention to by the media or the government as it was not of immediate economic interest to the larger population.

While Ghoramara continues to shrink and Parali I has already inundated, with another four islands expected to follow the route, our land masses are at risk. But the issue has remained largely ignored.

Reporter Soha Kala of NewsGram brings you an exclusive conversation with Mr Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director General, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi where he shares his insight about the fate of the world’s vanishing islands.

“Banishing of Parali I is just the beginning and
We are going to see much more devastation.
The US has just suffered two hurricanes and three are in line.
The Caribbean has been devastated. India has been
experiencing extremely bad weather
. In such a scenario,
The media has been unable to understand and prioritize
the important issues of all times and, therefore, they are
not reporting them.”

 

Media coverage of the world’s vanishing islands’ plight has been comprehensive. Around the world and in a variety of languages, the tiny country Tuvalu, the Solomon Islands and several others in the Pacific region have been a topic for discussion in the last few years.

These islands have become the poster child for the impact of the greenhouse effect and global warming, and have definitely provided a definite face to climate change and its repercussions. Journalists have extensively covered the story of Tuvalu’s sea-level rise. The inundation of the Solomon Islands also received due coverage with The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, and The Washington Post being some of the media outlets that reported on the issue.

However, the Indian media is yet to take into account the fate of the Parali I island, with the attention paid to the issue ranging from scanty coverage to mere ignorance.

“I think one of the reasons is because Parali I is an island somewhere in the Indian ocean- out of sight, out of mind. Parali I was not habituated, which means the absence of an economic interest.  And, therefore, it has not been of much interest to the mainstream media,” believes Mr Bhushan.

Mr Bushan agrees that the question NewsGram is raising is absolutely important – Indian mainstream media seems to be losing sight of some of the most important issues of our time. Environment and climate change are one of them.

Why is Sea Level Rising?

Mr Bhushan asserts that the threat of rising sea levels has been previously drastically underestimated. The sea level continues to rise at more than 3 mm per year; a trend Mr Bhushan suggests is only going to hasten because of global warming.

“About two-thirds of the global warming is currently being absorbed by the oceans. As the water warms, it expands and therefore, the sea level rises”, he explained.

Additionally, as the temperatures continue on an upward trend, the glaciers and sea ice continue to melt, which normally increases the sea level.

“Global warming is going to continue and sea levels are going to rise because of the past carbon dioxide emissions, the current emissions and the future projected emissions. Even if we reach net-zero emissions by 2050, which is highly unlikely, we will see the temperature increase of about 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial era”, believes Mr Bhushan.

This spiralling trend signals that the low-lying islands and coastal areas will be susceptible to inundation and some islands will vanish.

The list of which has already begun.

“There is a very clear prediction that some of the
important islands of Maldives are going to get
reduced in size or even completely inundated.  Similar things
will happen in Lakshadweep as well as some parts of
Andaman. Also, Bay of Bengal and Sundarbans are
extremely vulnerable. In the worst case scenario, about a third
of Bangladesh will go down.”

 

The Key Drivers of Climate Change

The Earth is home to millions of species. But only one dominates it and i.e Humans.

Our attitudes, inventiveness and practices have a profound impact and have in fact, modified most parts of our planet. Looking at the current trend, it won’t be wrong to say that we are the drivers of several global problems the world is currently facing.

A research by the Australian National University (ANU) had revealed in February that humans are forcing the climate to change 170 times faster than natural forces.

For the last 7,000 years, the principal forces to drive changes in the climate have been astronomical in nature – changes in the orbital parameters and the solar intensity, and the nature and activity of volcanoes. According to Professor Steffen of the Fenner School of Environment and Society and the Climate Change Institute at ANU, these factors when combined drive a rate of change of 0.01 degrees Celsius per century.

However, “human-generated greenhouse gas emissions in the last 45 years have increased this rate of temperature rise to 1.7 degrees Celsius per century,” he said in an official report.

We are not implying that the damage by geological processes or the astronomical forces of the solar system has minimized. But, in comparison to their impact in a mere 45 year period, they are now negligible in comparison to the influence exercised by us.

Such is the destruction caused by humans and this does not cease to stop.

What Can Be Done To Save Our Islands From Vanishing?

Mr Chandra Bhushan believes humanity still has a chance to delay, if not prevent, catastrophic climate change, but time is rapidly running out.

During our conversation with him, the environmental expert highlighted the necessity to immediately undertake coastal and island protection measures- bio-protection being the first line of defense.

He asserted the importance of maintaining healthy mangroves and deciding against mindfully modifying the coastal areas.

Mangroves are known to reduce wave energy as waves travel through them; thus, a healthy practice would be to maintain at least 200 metres of mangrove belts between the embankment and the sea to protect the landmass from eroding.

While this may seem like a practical alternative against erosion, the mangroves themselves are susceptible to erosion when the soil under their root systems is destabilized by wave action.

To counter the damage, seawalls and other man-made protection measures have been built in some areas of the country- the most notable being the sea walls in Marine Drive and in Pudducherry.

Parali I
The sea-wall at Marine Drive, Mumbai. Wikimedia

These concrete structures called tetrapods have been used to reduce the impact of the sea. But if you think these are sufficient to help us wage a war against the strength of Nature, then you should probably reconsider your stand.

The tetrapods in Mumbai require to be replaced annually, or a certain area of the well gets inundated. Similarly, the rising water levels have been eroding the sea walls in Pudducherry as a result of which the walls are collapsing.

Mr Chandra Bhushan told our reporter Soha Kala that all these are temporary solutions till we address the fundamental issue of reversing the global warming. Without this, it will be a losing battle.

He suggested that we look at temporary short-term measures as well as long-term measures to counter the loss of land masses.

“The world today is talking about how to reduce
emission
 but reducing emission is not going to
be sufficient. 

You have to start talking about negative emission
– of 
sucking carbon dioxide from atmosphere and
storing it somewhere.”

Is there nothing that can save our islands from erosion and subsequent inundation?

“As I see, looking at the global trend right now, I am not very optimistic,” said Mr Bhushan.

While we are yet to witness the mainstream media tend to the inundation of Parali I, what is equally upsetting is to see no reaction from the government either.

“Climate change is the gangrene that the
world is 
facing right now. I tell this to everyone,
it is as if you 
have gangrene and the
governments are putting a bandage on it.

They are not thinking about surgery.”

We are currently facing a very grave crisis, the gravity of which has not been sufficiently recognized by the Central government which is yet to release any official statement on the issue. And Mr Bhushan agrees. He told NewsGram that as far as his information, the Indian Government, or for that matter, governments across the world are not serious enough- serious to the proportion of the crisis that we face.

Analyzing the current trend, Dr Bhushan said, “A number of areas will get devastated.  I think the world will have to be ready for losses that we are going to face because of climate change.”

 

 

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India condemns support systems for terrorists in South Asia, expresses concern over North Korea’s nuclear program

Sushma Swaraj’s statement assumes significance as it comes after the unprecedented BRICS Summit joint statement earlier this month in which Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa unequivocally named Pakistan and the terror groups based there

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Sushma Swaraj talks about support systems of terrorists in South Asia
External affairs minister of India, Sushma Swaraj. Wikimedia
  • India on Thursday condemned support systems for terrorists in South Asia while expressing concern over South Asia’s nuclear program
  • Sushma Swaraj’s statement is significant since it comes after the BRICS Summit where many countries unequivocally named Pakistan and the terrorist groups based there
  • Sushma Swaraj also sought cooperation for early conclusion of negotiations and adoption of the India-initiated Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism

New York, Sep 22, 2017:  In an obvious reference to Pakistan, India on Thursday condemned support systems for terrorists in South Asia while expressing concern over North Korea’s nuclear and weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

“The horror of terrorism continues to haunt global peace and security. Terror groups draw sustenance from support systems in South Asia,” Sushma Swaraj said while speaking at the BRICS Ministerial Meeting on the margins of the UN General Assembly Session here.

“They continue to find support and shelter in countries which use terrorism as an instrument of state policy.

“We must condemn efforts, including by states, to use religion to justify, sustain and sponsor terrorism against other countries,” she added.

Sushma Swaraj’s statement assumes significance as it comes after the unprecedented BRICS Summit joint statement earlier this month in which Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa unequivocally named Pakistan and the terror groups based there.

“There is need for collective efforts to disrupt terrorist networks, their financing and movement,” she said, calling for terrorist funding, their weapons supply, training and political support to “be systematically cut off”.

Sushma Swaraj also sought cooperation for early conclusion of negotiations and adoption of the India-initiated Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN Security Council.

On North Korea’s recent offensive military posturing, she said: “The action and rhetoric of North Korea has been a source of growing global concern.”

Also read: Baloch Activist Bugti hails Sushma Swaraj for her speech against Pakistan Atrocities at UN General Assembly

She also touched on climate change and referred to Indian Prime Minister Narendra’s Modi’s suggestion of an alliance between the India-initiated International Solar Alliance and the New Development Bank, a multilateral development bank established by the BRICS nations.

“I hope we can work together to give this ambitious agenda practical shape in coming months,” she said.

The International Solar Alliance, launched at the UN Conference of Parties (CoP) climate summit in Paris on November 30, 2015, by Prime Minister Modi and then French President Francois Hollande, is conceived as a coalition of solar resource-rich countries to address their special energy needs and provide a platform to collaborate on dealing with the identified gaps through a common, agreed approach.

It is open to all 121 prospective member countries falling between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. (IANS)

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Home is Where Mountains Are ! Rundown of 7 Mountains in India

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Beautiful mountains in India
Manali in India. Pixabay

Sep 20, 2017: Mountains are simply attractive, but the blooms and lush greenery creates a lovely shading which makes them appear even more alluring. India is blessed with such splendid sights and eye soothing mountain ranges.

Take a look at these 7 magnificent mountains in India

Valley of Flowers, Uttrakhand

Beautiful mountains in India
Valley of flowers, Garhwal Uttarakhand India. Wikimedia

Valley of flower is situated in Uttarakhand, also Known as God’s own land. The impressive panoramas of the mountains and valleys of the downtown ought to be exceptionally noted. This place is brimmed with distinction.

Chandratal Lake, Himachal Pradesh

Beautiful mountains in India
Different colors of Chandratal lake. Wikimedia

Its magnificence is conceived by its snow-clad mountains, waterways, and lakes. There befall peace and solace by seeing them.

Beautiful mountains in India

Rohtang Manali, Himachal Pradesh

Beautiful mountains in India
Rohtang Pass, Manali. Wikimedia

The wonderful valley of Rohtang Pass here gives a feeling of paradise on earth. In the meantime, the magnificence of the Solang valley adds four moons to the perfection of Rohtang.

Kanchenjunga Mountain, Sikkim

Beautiful mountains in India
This is the view of the great Kanchenjunga Mountain range in Sikkim taken in the morning at a freezing temperature. Wikimedia

Every scene of Kanchenjunga situated in Sikkim is unmatched and wonderful in itself. The mountains secured with snow, streams ascending through the mountains heighten the magnificence of this place.

Beautiful mountains in India

Pithoragarh, Uttrakhand

Beautiful mountains in India
Aesculus indica, Horse Chestnut, Pithoragarh, Himalayas. Wikimedia

This area is the easternmost Himalayan region in Uttarakhand, also known as the little Kashmir. High Himalayan mountains topped with snow, emerald grasslands and meadows is a sight full of astonishment.

Ranikhet, Uttrakhand

Beautiful mountains in India
Ranikhet (Beauty of Himalaya valley). Wikimedia

Located in the Kumaon mountain, the Ranikhet slope is arranged amongst Nainital and Almora. It is encompassed by woods from all sides, the name of the slope of Ranikhet, which is named after Rani Padmini. The excellence of this place are the fundamental focuses of fascination.

Beautiful mountains in India

Rishikesh, Uttrakhand

Beautiful mountains in India
Monsoon in Rishikesh. Wikimedia

The bright slopes and valleys spread over the city makes the place even more alluring.

Prepared by Naina Mishta of Newsgram. Twitter @Nainamishr94


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