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A crisis that no one has anticipated
Wed, 2 Apr Pre-Open

The Indian economy is grappling with several problems at once. The fiscal deficit, high and persistent consumer inflation, policy paralysis, inadequate infrastructure, corruption and complicated laws are some of the major ones. These problems have been discussed threadbare by several people over the last few years. However, there is one issue that has gone almost unnoticed. We are talking about climate change.

By climate change, we are not referring to the specific narrow scientific debate regarding the human causes of this problem. What is of far greater concern is the fact that the climate of the world is changing and that it will have far reaching consequences for our economy. A large part of the problem is the ignorance about this issue. While everyone is aware about the phenomenon, very few are aware about the consequences. An article on firstbiz has highlighted the same.

Referring to the latest report on the issue by the United Nation's (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the article states that climate change could have severe negative implications for the Indian economy. These include but are not limited to, slowing down GDP growth, affecting the health of the population, making poverty eradication more difficult and reducing the country's food security. The report is the most comprehensive one about the issue to date. It states that Indians will be more vulnerable to floods, cyclones and droughts in the future due to rising global temperatures.

The report highlights specific effects like increasing outbreaks of water-borne and mosquito-borne diseases such as diarrhea and malaria due to unpredictable rainfall. Also, food security could be affected due to falling yields of staple crops such as wheat and rice. Another specific example is the tourism industry. Rising sea levels due to global warming would adversely affect beach resorts. Tourists might also prefer to spend their holidays at higher altitudes that have cooler temperatures. The report has ranked India as the most vulnerable out of 51 countries in beach tourism.

These are all serious issues that deserve close attention by policy makers. Mitigation of these problems has now become critically important. Developing countries like India are more vulnerable than developed nations due to the large number of people that live in poverty and the adverse impact of climate change will be felt by them the hardest. The government should certainly respond to this issue by promoting policies that cut back on green house gas emissions. The sooner the response, the more effective will be the solution.

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