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An analysis and overview of impact of climate change on human health in India

Author: 
Jayadatta, S. and Cherian Xavier
Subject Area: 
Social Sciences and Humanities
Abstract: 

As of today climate change is one of the most important global environmental challenges of the present century. Water and food security indeed are key challenges under climate change as both are highly vulnerable to continuously changing climate patterns. As per the recent study it has been predicted that the average global temperature may increase by 1.4-5.8 degree Celsius and there would be also substantial reduction in agricultural yield and fresh water resources by the end of the 21st century. It is believed that approximately 75% of the Himalayan glaciers are on retreat and will also disappear by 2035. The rainfall could drop by 10% which would reduce drainage by 17% in Africa (Sub Saharan Africa) by 2050. The latest IPCC report concludes that climate change is projected to increase threat to human health, particularly in lower income countries. It will have implications on water supply, food production, air quality, coastal settlements and human health. As two third of the Indian population depends directly on the climate sectors like fisheries, agriculture and forests, it is also bound to have an adverse impact. The basic elements required for maintaining good health like portable water, clean water, adequate food and shelter can be affected by the changing climate. Recently India reported an increase in the incidence of decrease in crop production, vector borne diseases, more frequent extreme weather events which could be necessarily attributed to changing climate. Over the last 100 years or so, though India has contributed only 2 percent of the total carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning, still it is likely to experience greater effects from the ‘extreme weather’ events. Recent Heat waves in odisha and Andra Pradesh have caused an estimated 2000 and 3000 deaths respectively. Climate change is projected to bring increased temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, evaporation and salinization of water sources through rising sea levels. Over the years, water supplies stored in snow cover and glaciers are also projected to decline. This will also reduce water availability to populations supplied by melt water from some of the major mountain ranges. Addressing climate change will certainly need promoting adapting and mitigation strategies without hampering economic development, good scientific evidence as well as coordinated action by multiple stakeholders.

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