Never miss a story

Get subscribed to our newsletter

Photo by Unsplash

At least 1.5 billion people have been directly affected by drought during the current century.

Drought is a hidden global crisis that risks becoming "the next pandemic" if countries do not take urgent action on their water and land management.

A recent UN report, says that at least 1.5 billion people have been directly affected by drought during the current century, and its economic cost has been estimated at $124bn. The true cost is likely to be many times higher as estimates do not include much of the impact in developing countries.

The report entitled Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk reduction: Special Report on Drought 2021 published earlier this month will be part of discussions at the next climate talks known as COP26, which are scheduled to take place in Glasgow, the UK in November.

Follow NewsGram on Facebook to stay updated.

Mami Mizutori, the UN secretary general's special representative for disaster risk reduction in the foreword of the report says that drought is on the verge of becoming the next pandemic and there is no vaccine to cure it. Most of the world will be living with water stress in the next few years. Demand will outstrip supply during certain periods. Drought is a major factor in land degradation and the decline of yields for major crops.

She says many people had an image of drought as affecting desert regions in Africa, but that this was not the case. Drought is now widespread, and by the end of the century, all but a handful of countries will experience it in some form.

She further says that people have been living with drought for 5,000 years, but what we are seeing now is very different. Human activities are exacerbating drought and increasing the impact, threatening to derail progress on lifting people from poverty.

Developed countries too have not been immune to drought. The US, Australia and southern Europe have experienced drought in recent years. Drought costs more than $6bn a year in direct impacts in the US, and about in the EU.

A senior scientist at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and a co-author of the report, Roger Pulwarty has been quoted as saying that drought also goes beyond agriculture. He gives the example of the River Danube in Europe, where recurring drought has affected transport, tourism, industry and energy generation. He further opines that we need to have a look at how to manage resources such as rivers and large water basins.

A common scientific theory opines that changing rainfall patterns as a result of climate breakdown is a key driver of drought, but the report also identifies the inefficient use of water resources and the degradation of land under intensive agriculture and poor farming practices as playing a major role. Deforestation, overuse of fertilisers and pesticides, overgrazing and over-extraction of water for farming are also major problems, identified in the report.

Mizutori has called for governments to take action to help prevent drought by reforming and regulating how water is extracted, stored and used, and how land is managed. She says early warning systems could do much to help people in danger. She stressed working with local people and techniques, as local and indigenous knowledge could help to inform where and how to store water and how to predict the impact of dry periods.

Energy Imbalance

Drought Many people had an image of drought as affecting desert regions in Africa, but that this was not the case. Photo by Unsplash

Meanwhile, in another related alarm scientists from NASA and NOAA say that earth's energy imbalance' roughly doubled from 2005 to 2019 in an �alarming' manner. According to new research, details of which were released earlier this month, the earth is trapping nearly twice as much heat as it did in 2005, described as an unprecedented' increase amid the climate crisis.

'Energy imbalance' refers to the difference between how much of the Sun's 'radiative energy' is absorbed by Earth's atmosphere and surface, compared to how much 'thermal infrared radiation' bounces back into space. In a statement about this study, NASA said that "A positive energy imbalance means the Earth system is gaining energy, causing the planet to heat up, and the trends we found were quite alarming in a sense".

Any increase in greenhouse gas emissions keeps heat in the earth's atmosphere, trapping radiation that would otherwise move into space. This warming spurs other changes, including ice and snowmelt. Any increase in water vapour, and changes to clouds, could further exacerbate this warming, NASA says.

The study found that this doubling is the result, in part, of an increase in greenhouse gases and water vapour, as well as decreases in clouds and ice. Researchers also said that a naturally occurring shift in the Pacific Ocean from a cool phase to a warm one probably had a significant role in amplifying this energy imbalance.

The study also determined that unless the rate of heat uptake slows, greater shifts in climate patterns should be expected.

Some cheer for activists

On the other hand, is a historical judgement, a Belgian court has ruled that Belgium's climate failures violate human rights. In the latest legal victory against public authorities that have broken promises to tackle the climate emergency,

Belgian Judges said the state's failure to meet climate targets breaches civil law and human rights convention.

The Brussels court of the first instance declared the Belgian state had committed an offence under Belgian's civil law and breached the European convention on human rights.

By not taking all "necessary measures" to prevent the "detrimental" effects of climate change, the court said, Belgian authorities had breached the right to life (Article 2) and the right to respect for private and family life (Article 8).

The NGO, Klimaatzaak - which means climate case in Dutch, and which brought the case hailed the judgment as historic, both like the decision and the court's recognition of 58,000 citizens as co-plaintiffs.

The legal victory in Belgium follows similar rulings in the Netherlands, Germany and France, where judges have condemned governments for inadequate responses to the climate crisis or failing to keep their promises.

According to the European Commission, Belgium the first continental European country to undergo the industrial revolution is on track to miss its emission reduction targets for 2030.

Drought Drought is a major factor in land degradation and the decline of yields for major crops. Photo by Unsplash

ALSO READ Droughts drying the global wetlands says study

What all these three news put together means is that the Climate Change threat is more dangerous and omnipresent. Until and unless the world's leaders act in unison and honour their commitment to raise and spend $100 billion, to tackle the threat as per the Paris Agreement and take some coordinated and concerted measures at Glasgow, we may face a dire threat to the human race.

(Asad Mirza is a political commentator based in New Delhi. He writes on Muslims, education, international affairs, interfaith and current affairs. The views expressed are personal) (IANS/AD)



Music is the universal language that is spoken by all.

When it comes to our day-to-day life, there are several things which help us enhance our day with every step. One such thing is music. It enhances, motivates and boosts certain aspects of our personality in ways that may not come into notice. There have been several researches on how music affects human brain. Studies show it helps us in recovery and healing, and also, encouraging us to be better if exposed to the right kind and fit.

From kids to elderly, music as a commodity, can be consumed by all. It is the universal language that is spoken by each and every being, from animals to humans to plants, each respond to it in their own ways. Suffice to say, we are united by music and the effect it has over us. Plants, for example, grow better when exposed to good music. Many songs are being composed specifically to enhance and boost their growth. Same is the case for humans. For humans, the right kind of music can boost good health, physically as well as mentally. You might have noticed how in gyms, upbeat music is played. That is to channel energy into everyone present. It adds to the workout. Several researches around the world have shown better physical output when exposed to appropriate music. Fast paced songs with upbeat nature channeled speed and the slower ones slowed downs the listeners, without them noticing. The sub-conscious effects of music are continuously being studied.

Keep Reading Show less

Awareness is the key to heal.

As more and more people are acknowledging the importance of their mental well-being, the wave of awareness the acknowledgment has brought is unprecedented. It may not have paved a clear path towards complete healing but it certainly has shown the way. The awareness is the key to heal. Healing begins only after the problem is identified. Similar to physical illness, the identification of the problem area is the first step. Even in case of a minor wound, when we go to the hospital the nurse first locates the wound. They, then, ask how we got hurt and identify the nature of the wound. Only then, they clean, put ointment and wrap it up if it needs wrapping and protection from air and dust. Sometimes, that protection is not needed. The wound heals out in the open. Same goes when it comes to healing of a mental trauma or illness. Sometimes, we confine in professionals or our loved ones, in order to let it out and process it openly. Sometimes, the trauma reduces with time. In any way, being aware and vigilant is the way to go.

Being knowledgeable about life in general, opens many channels for you. Being knowledgeable about yourself, opens gates inside you that lead to spiritual and general awareness about the concept of self. And the inner awareness is not necessarily internal, it can be seen from the outside as well. When we have positive energy from within it radiates physically as well. Have you encountered someone who’s spiritually awakened and aware? Do they stand out in the crowd? There are prominent examples of people who have made their mark in history, there is Swami Vivekanada, his awakening has revolutionised generations, one live example we can witness is The Dalai Lama.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Game of Thrones taught us some significant lessons

Honestly, who hasn’t watched one of the epic series of HBO– Game of Thrones?

There’s no question that when the first episode of Game of Thrones was released on April 11, 2011, the youth population of the world became exuberant. The main reasons behind this reaction was, first, the theme of the show, and second, the hidden lessons which it put forward.

Keep reading... Show less