The region’s temperature has risen by 1.2 degrees Celsius over the past century, higher than the global average of 0.8 to 0.9 degrees Celsius
Global warming is the long-term warming of the global temperature of the planet. Although this warming trend has been going on for a long time, its rate has increased dramatically over the past hundred years due to the burning of fossil fuels. As the human population has grown, so has the volume of fossil fuels burned. Earth’s temperature has risen 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.08 degrees Celsius) per decade since 1880, but the rate of warming since 1981 has more than doubled to 0.32 degrees Fahrenheit (0.18 degrees Celsius) per decade. According to the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), temperature data prior to 2021 was recorded as the sixth warmest year. The main reason was the increase in greenhouse gases produced by human activities. This increase in greenhouse gases has raised the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere, causing glaciers to melt at a faster rate. It will melt all the glaciers in the Himalayan region, called the water tower of Asia, and change the livelihoods of millions of people as it provides about 8.6 million cubic meters of water per year to the countries Asia and this region covers an area of 33,000 square kilometres.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the temperature is increasing at a higher rate compared to the global average. The region’s temperature has risen by 1.2 degrees Celsius over the past century, higher than the global average of 0.8 to 0.9 degrees Celsius. This sudden rise in temperature has impacted life in Kashmir in various aspects. Firstly, agricultural fields have been badly affected due to persistent drought conditions during the monsoon season in Kashmir. Farmers in the valley are pessimistic about harvesting any crop this year amid the scarcity of rainfall. According to the IMD (India Meteorological Department) the valley received this year more than 80% of rainfall deficit due to the absence of strong western or Mediterranean disturbances, which bring humidity. Due to these dry conditions and water scarcity, irrigated production of rice, wheat and mustard could be reduced by 6%, 4% and 4% respectively.
This deficit of food production in the Kashmir region reaches 4% while the deficit of market gardening production is 3% and is 69% for the production of oilseeds. In fact, Kashmir, which was supposed to produce a lot of rice and wheat, now produces these grains in very small quantities, and if climate change continues unabated, Kashmir will import all of its food from neighboring states very soon.
Saffron production in the valley has a historic past and Jammu and Kashmir is the only Indian state to produce saffron for commercial purposes. According to the Kashmir Ministry of Agriculture, 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 the impacts of climate change.
Secondly, these drought conditions will seriously harm Kashmir’s tourism industry. Lack of snowfall will result in the closure 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. Thajwas Glacier (also known as the hidden gem of Kashmir), a major tourist attraction in Kashmir’s Sonamarg, is melting at a rapid rate. Before 20 years, this glacier extended over a vast area and tourists could see it by walking only a few meters. But now they have to walk for miles to see the glacier.
Third, it causes the extinction of domestic and wild animals due to rising temperatures which affects vegetation, pastures, food sources, access to water and much more. Ecosystems can become uninhabitable for some animals, causing wild animals to migrate outside of their usual patterns in search of food and living conditions, while causing the death of other animals.
In conclusion, given the deadly nature of the effects of global warming and because global warming is primarily a product of human activities, there is a need for collective responsibility to save Mother Nature. Failure to do so can lead to countless devastating calamities that will greatly compromise the well-being of present and future generations.
The author is a 5th semester BA student at Govt Degree College Sogam (Lolab), Kupwara. [email protected]