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Double Threat: How Climate Change and Plastic Put India at Risk | Velociity


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Earth Day 2024 carries the theme "Planet vs. Plastic," urging us to acknowledge the detrimental effects of plastic pollution on our environment. However, this environmental crisis is intricately linked to another: climate change.


Rising Temperatures and Declining Rainfall in India

India, a nation heavily reliant on its agricultural sector, faces a double threat from climate change. Here's a breakdown of the situation:

  • Temperature Increase: Since 1850, global average temperatures have risen by roughly 1°C. In India, the average temperature has increased by about 0.7°C [Insert reference: Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) data]. This seemingly small rise can significantly impact weather patterns.

  • Decreased Rainfall: A concerning trend in India is the decline in annual rainfall, particularly during the monsoon season. Studies suggest a possible decrease of 10-20% in monsoon rainfall by the end of the 21st century [ Reference: ResearchGate - Temperature and Precipitation trends in Kashmir valley, North Western Himalayas].

Data Table: Temperature Increase in India (1901-2020)

Decade

Average Temperature (°C)

Change from Previous Decade (°C)

1901-1910

24.38

-

1911-1920

24.42

0.04

1921-1930

24.51

0.09

1931-1940

24.62

0.11

1941-1950

24.70

0.08

1951-1960

24.79

0.09

1961-1970

24.82

0.03

1971-1980

24.89

0.07

1981-1990

24.98

0.09

1991-2000

25.04

0.06

2001-2010

25.16

0.12

2011-2020

25.32

0.16

Source: India Meteorological Department (IMD)

These rising temperatures and declining rainfall patterns contribute to increased droughts across India. This, in turn, disrupts agricultural production, water availability, and overall ecosystem health.


The Plastic Problem and its Link to Climate Change

Plastic pollution adds another layer of complexity to the climate crisis. Here's why:

  • Plastic Production Releases Greenhouse Gases: Manufacturing plastic generates significant greenhouse gas emissions, accelerating global warming.

  • Plastic Waste Doesn't Disappear: Most plastic ends up in landfills or our environment, taking hundreds of years to decompose. This plastic breakdown releases methane, another potent greenhouse gas.

  • Plastic Blocks Water Infiltration: Plastic pollution in soil hinders its ability to absorb rainwater, exacerbating drought conditions.


Data Table: Annual Plastic Waste Generation in India (in Million Metric Tonnes)

Year

Plastic Waste Generation

2010

15.3

2015

25.9

2020

35.2

2025 (projected)

47.8

Source: Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)


The ever-increasing plastic waste problem demands immediate action.

Taking Action for a Sustainable Future

Reduce Reliance on Single-Use Plastics:
  • Carry reusable bags and water bottles: Invest in durable shopping bags and water bottles you can use for years.

  • Opt for products with minimal plastic packaging: Look for items with minimal or compostable packaging. When possible, choose products packaged in glass, metal, or cardboard.

  • Support legislation promoting alternatives: Contact your local representatives and voice your support for policies that encourage reusable options and discourage single-use plastics.

Practice Responsible Waste Management:
  • Segregate waste at home: Set up separate bins for recyclables, compostable materials, and landfill waste. Learn what materials your local recycling program accepts.

  • Participate in recycling initiatives: Find out about local drop-off centers or curbside recycling programs in your area.

  • Support efforts for improved waste management infrastructure: Advocate for investments in your community's waste collection, sorting, and recycling facilities.

Beyond Individual Action:
  • Educate others: Spread awareness about the problems of plastic pollution and climate change. Talk to friends, family, and colleagues.

  • Support sustainable businesses: Choose companies committed to reducing plastic use and minimizing their environmental footprint.

  • Reduce your overall consumption: Buy less stuff, especially unnecessary plastic items. Consider buying used items or borrowing what you need occasionally.

  • Embrace a low-carbon lifestyle: Reduce your reliance on private vehicles. Walk, cycle, or use public transport whenever possible. Conserve energy at home by using energy-efficient appliances and practices.

Remember, every action, however small, contributes to a larger impact. By making conscious choices and advocating for change, we can create a more sustainable future for ourselves and the planet.

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