Did You Know ?



-Shivani Thakur

The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change or the IPCC was awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize on the 12th October, 2007. The panel is headed by Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, who is also the Director of Delhi based organization TERI. Born in Nainital and holding two PhD’s in economics and industrial engineering from North Carolina State University, he took charge of IPCC in 2002. The panel was set up by the World Meteorological organization and the UN Environment Programme. The IPCC comprises of 3000 odd atmospheric scientists, oceanographers, ice specialists, economists and other experts. The panel itself does not carry out any research but assesses and evaluates existing research.  All IPCC reports are scrutinized by the scientists and summary of each is reviewed by the participatory governments. The IPCC has predicted more severe rains, melting glaciers, droughts heat waves and rising sea levels. All scientists in the panel are considered the final word on climate change assessment.

          RK Pachauri’s achievement lies in the fact that he, as the head of TERI, has made immense contribution to the field of environment for which he was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2001 by the Indian government. His zeal towards his job has brought focus to the growing concern about global warming. The earlier report, by the panel nearly six years ago, only talked about the “likely” effect due to human activities;  Te report of February 2007 has clearly stated  that it is  “very likely” the cause. The report predicts that the temperatures would rise between 1.8 and 4 degree Celsius in the 21st century. It warns that by 2050 more than 200 million people would be forced from their native lands by rising sea levels.  Himalayan glaciers could shrink from the present 500,000 sq.km to 100,000 sq.km by 2030’s.  The Mediterranean might become arid and the worst hit species would be polar bears, frogs, cod and coral.

        The climate change would also be responsible for falls in production of wheat, barley and maize.  RK Pachauri estimates that a rise of 0.5 degrees in winter temperatures could cause 0.45 tonne per hectare fall in wheat production. The crop yield per hectare will cause food insecurity and loss of livelihood. The rising sea level in the coastal areas will damage areas for fisheries causing coastal erosion and flooding.  India’s per capita water availability will fall from 1820 million cubic meters to 1140 million cubic meters in 2050.  Pachauri mentions that it is high time that Indian government starts looking at the implications of climate change impact, especially for the poor dependent on rain fed agriculture. The poorer nations that contribute to less heat trapping green house gases will pay the highest price for global warming.

        The IPCC findings are approved unanimously by the governments and will guide policy on issues such as UN’s Kyoto Protocol and the mini UN plan for capping greenhouse gas emissions.  Achim Steiner, head of the UN Environment Program says that it is no longer about whether climate change is happening but about how we deal with it.  Hans Verolome of WWF conservation group says that the urgency of this report should be matched with equally urgent response by governments. 

Pachauri says winning the Nobel award means that climate is on everyone’s radar and will prompt governments to take decisions.

  Attempt a quiz on global warming by clicking on the link below

Quiz on Global Warming

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