Sunday, June 14, 2009

Increasing cases of malaria, dengue, asthma related to climate change?

Nidhi Jamwal, writing for Down to Earth (story was published by The New Indian Express on June 13), says that according to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) the climate in Indian cities like Mumbai is warming up fast and there could be natural disasters. The Mumbai office of the IMD, after analysis of 100 years of weather data, found a rise of 1.62 degree C in the average maximum temperature. It has also found that human activity-induced environmental degradation is responsible for global warming. There were more natural disasters in the 1990s than in the 1960s, Jamwal quotes the deputy director general of the Regional Meteorological Centre as saying.

Interestingly, Jamwal’s story mentions that such rise in temperature (albeit less than 2 degree C) leads to health and food problems as well. Diseases such as malaria, dengue and asthma are related to global warming, the head of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute’s Mumbai office is quoted as saying. Jamwal points out that 1,351 malaria cases were reported till April this year.

Mumbai’s example could apply to any other Indian city. The onus, therefore, is on Indian citizens as such to realise that they own responsibility to make their lives better and healthier, and for future generations, too. Awareness about the problem is simply not enough. Individuals and NGOs in the forefront of the battle against global warming must continue to din the message into the minds of as many people as they can. It is time the government also stepped in a big way to spread the message because there is nobody who can spread the message as effectively as the government can, with the entire infrastructure and machinery at its disposal.

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