Shelter from the storm
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- Sonia Gandhi, PM Manmohan Singh slam BJP for disrupting Parliament, stalling bills
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- Jessica Lall case: Shayan Munshi to face perjury trial
India must integrate responses to climate change with its development strategy
It was Mark Twain who said that everyone talks about the weather, but does nothing about it. In India, the accurate forecasting of monsoons is of particular importance. This year again our forecasts have been largely off the mark. As a result, there was no chance for timely adaptation measures. The Indian Meteorological Department has suffered from years of neglect, but with the formation of the ministry of earth sciences, there are efforts to improve knowledge and scientific capabilities for monsoon predictions, and for projecting the impacts of climate change. These efforts urgently need to be accelerated and expanded.
Scientific knowledge in assessing all aspects of climate change has advanced considerably in recent years. The fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) said that most of the warming that has taken place since the middle of the last century is very likely the result of increase in the concentration of anthropogenic or human-induced greenhouse gases. The term "very likely" in this context connotes a probability level of 90 per cent or above. The IPCC also assesses that climate change has an impact on human health, agriculture, the occurrence of floods and droughts and threats to biodiversity.
In November 2011, the IPCC published a special report on managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation (SREX), which provides findings of great consequence to India. Global weather and climate related disaster losses reported over the last few decades reflect mainly monetised, direct damages to assets, and are unequally distributed. Since 1980, annual loss estimates have ranged from a few billion dollars to $200 billion — the highest being in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit. Loss estimates, however, are lower bound estimates. Many impacts, such as loss of human lives, cultural heritage and ecosystem services, are difficult to monetise and are thus poorly reflected in estimates of losses. Impacts on the informal or undocumented economy as well as indirect economic effects are generally not counted in reported loss estimates either.
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