This is my first write up on visible impacts on Climate Change in the part of Himalayas that I call home.
I first visited Manali when I was in school, I must have been around 12-13 years old. I had visited many other hill stations but Manali stole my heart as a kid. Once I started traveling independently Manali was one of the first places I explored and somewhere in 2010, when I visited old Manali for the first time and I fell in love with the place, the culture and people. Since then it was my dream to make Manali my home. Year after year my visits to Manali kept growing, for travel for treks and so did my love for the places. 2016 after a lot of deliberation, ups and downs and crooked paths I finally managed to find home in Manali, it was a dream come true.
We all know that year by year the temperatures are rising, glaciers and polar ice is melting, rainfall is getting more and more irregular and erratic. We all know why is this happening? The primary reason behind this is the rise in Co2 in the atmosphere. The winter of 2015-2016 didn’t see winters and lack of snow fall across the globe. This has lead to water problems in several mountain topographies. Spiti Valley, the valley closest to my heart saw water problems. On one hand tourism is growing like no one’s business on the other hand water problems are increasing. The future predicts that water problems will only increase, pure because temperatures are rising and rain fall is erratic.
I have been struggling to breathe in Delhi with the air becoming hazardous. Educated citizens are more concerned about political issues rather than being concerned about the air they are taking in. If you think cities are going to be unlivable in the next 20 years, here is a reality check, they are already inhabitable, you are not breathing in oxygen, you are breathing in toxic already, it is inside your immune system and as you are hear you are only killing yourself.
Just when I think may be I should head back to my home – Manali, I get a news that few locals are intentionally setting forests on fire, why? to have rainfall. I am not sure if this was an accident or this was intentionally done due to lack of awareness. But here is what is happening: Age old traditions are being followed, earlier the level of oxygen was higher than the level of carbon di oxide and the atmosphere had a way of balancing this. How was the level of oxygen higher? Because the forests were dense, forests also hold ground water.
As the climate warms, moisture and precipitation levels are changing, with wet areas becoming wetter and dry areas becoming drier. Higher spring and summer temperatures and earlier spring snow-melt typically cause soils to be drier for longer, increasing the likelihood of drought and a longer wildfire. So putting your forests on fire is not going to bring in rainfall, it is further going to increase the atmospheric temperature, increase the chances of drought and reduce the level of ground water. This will cause depletion in the soil quality and as a result in the agricultural produce both in terms of quality of soil, atmospheric implications and availability of water.
If any one of you who hasn’t yet watched the film “Before the Flood” please do, it clearly states that Western, Central and North India is going to see drought in the coming years and it is already visible that it will, here is the link:
If there is something that I can go on and on about is the necessity to drop everything and focus on conservation and sustainable development. My heart bleeds right now to see Manali in this state and knowing its only going to get worst and I alone cant do much. I insist on who ever can make the slightest difference, please do at a policy level or at the ground level.
Also read : https://wanderthehimalayas.com/2016/05/08/uttarakhand-forest-fire/
In summary here are the dont’s and dos’
- Stop deforestation and usage for forest would as fuel wood, burning dead wood is not very harmful, but burning/chopping trees for wood is killing your own home
- Use biomass as a fuel for tandoors
- Stop turning complete agricultural land for cash crops and maintain a balance between native crops and cash crops.
- Find cash crops that are native to the soil and find products out of those cash crops eg: Hemp
- The educated and aware people should participate more in raising awareness among villagers and educate them on climate change and ill effects of deforestation
- Create a better structure around all commercial businesses at local panchayat levels that is fair and sustainable
- Create rain water and other water harvesting and preservation systems for agriculture
- Do not wait for the forest department or govt. to take action, decentralization is the key to sustainable development
Killing forests is like burning our lungs, we will not survive if the forests don’t!
Hoping for a better tomorrow!