The climate change negotiations in Paris will almost certainly get the world a deal, but not one that will prevent a 2°C increase in global temperatures. The problem is that the current temperature rise of 1°C is already too high. The Chennai floods and a number of other episodes indicate that climate change is not in the future: Climate change and its effects are already upon us. The future is now.
Let’s tick off some of those episodes. The Chennai floods are related to El Nino changes which can be traced back to climate change. Climate change caused a cotton-crop infestation in Punjab and is already contributing to social unrest there. There is a view that rising temperatures and falling water availability were linked to the rise of Maoism in central and eastern India. The cloudburst in Uttarakhand in 2013 was likely induced by climate change.
The effect of climate change is not restricted to India. The entire area from North Africa to Bangladesh is perhaps the most susceptible to climate change. These are also the areas of the world with the weakest governments, the highest civil unrest (to put it mildly), abysmal human development, a ticking demographic and gender time-bomb, unmatched religious and ethnic strife, and largescale unemployment.
Kanti Bajpai is Wilmar Professor on Asian Studies at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. This article was first published on The Times Of India December 5,2016.