Floods | Centre for Science and Environment

Floods


Himalayan blunders

 The floods in the Himalayas have been ferocious and deadly. Fears are that the final body count could run into several thousands. There is no clear estimate of the number of villages wiped out, property destroyed, roads washed away and hydropower projects damaged in the mountain state of Uttarakhand. The mountains are bleeding and its people have been left battered, bruised and dead.

A tale of two cities

I travelled to two different cities in two different states last week—Indore and Guwahati. I came back with images identified by common distinctions: piles of garbage and glitzy new shopping malls. Is this our vision of urban development? There is no question that cities are imploding; growth is happening faster than we ever imagined. Construction is booming and expansion is gobbling agricultural land.

Weather dice is loaded

During my weekly conversation with my sister I told her about the unusual searing heat this June, the problems of power cuts and how we are coping in India. She, in turn, told me that in Washington DC, where she lives, there was a terrible storm that damaged her roof and uprooted trees in her garden. They were fortunate that they still had electricity, because most houses in the city were in the dark. She also said it was unbearably hot because the region was in the grip of an unprecedented heat wave.

Six sins that make drought invincible

It’s drought time again. Nothing new in this announcement. Each year, first we have crippling droughts between December and June, and then devastating floods in the next few months. It’s a cycle of despair, which is more or less predictable. But this is not an inevitable cycle of nature we must live with. These droughts and floods are man-made, caused by deliberate neglect and designed failure of the way we manage water and land. What we must note with concern is that these “natural” disasters are growing in intensity and ferocity.

Down To Earth Cover Story: Future shock

As the world continues to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the global temperatures could rise by 3°C by mid-century, says a soon-to-be-released report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Read more

A monsoon warning

As I write this my city Delhi is drowning. It started raining early this morning and within a few hours the city has come to a standstill. The television is showing scenes of traffic snarled up for hours, roads waterlogged and people and vehicles sunk deep in water and muck. The meteorological department records that some 60 mm of rain has fallen in just about 6 hours; 90 mm in 24 hours; and with this the city has made up for its deficit of rainfall this season. In other words, in just about 24 hours Delhi and its surrounding areas got half as much rain as they would in the entire month of September. Delhi, like all growing cities of India, is mindless about drainage. Storm water drains are either clogged or do not exist. Our lakes and ponds have been eaten away by real estate. Land is what the city values, not water. So when it rains more than it should the city drowns.

Down To Earth Cover Story: Future shock

As the world continues to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the global temperatures could rise by 3°C by mid-century, says a soon-to-be-released report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Read more

How climate ready are we?

By: Sunita Narain

The world can shape the debate on climate link in two ways. One, it can argue endlessly about the scientific veracity of the link between human-induced climate change and the floods in Pakistan. Two, the world can agree that even if a single event—like the Pakistan floods that drowned a fifth of the country— cannot be ascribed to climate change, there is no doubt that a link exists between such events and climate change. The Pakistan meteorological department’s data shows the country received 200 to 700 per cent more rainfall than average. Rains came in cloudbursts in ecologically fragile mountainous areas and led to natural dam bursts and floods downstream. Rains were incessant leading to more floods and greater devastation.

Little harvest, less land to till

By: Tashi Morup

Leh farmers face losses as flood debris rendered land uncultivable

Two months after a cloudburst and floods destroyed their crops and land, hundreds of farmers in Leh are struggling to make a living. Farmlands in the district of Ladakh are covered with thick layers of dried mud and boulders. This has led many Ladakhi family suffer as their source of livelihood has shattered. It has taken Leh several decades back.

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