Global warming disturbs the stability of India’s food production. - 9 May 2008  
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While demand for grain continues to expand in the rapidly urbanizing country, output of staples such as wheat have turned unsteady in recent years. This is due to water stress and declining soil health, which are some of the effects of global warming. Dr. Mihir Deb is the Director of School of Environmental Studies at the University of Delhi, India. He explains to Supreme Master Television correspondents in India about the series of climate change problems now occurring in the country.

Dr. Mihir Deb: We predict that global climate change will affect Indian sub-continents in six different fields, basically. And these are in the field of water resources, in the field of forestry, in the field of agriculture, in the field of health, large scale health problems might arise and industries, transportation and lastly, in the sea level rise vulnerability.

VOICE: Global warming in India begins with the situation of its glaciers, such as the Gangotri glacier that is the main source feeding the Ganges River. Its rate of retreat has doubled in recent years to at an annual rate of more than 100 feet annually.

Dr. Mihir Deb, Director of School of Environmental Studies, University of Delhi, India: There are two impacts of such glacial retreat. One is initially the water is melting at a faster rate because of the temperature rise. So what’s happening, most of these north Indian rivers are glacier fed. So we are having lot of water being discharged into the rivers. It does cause flooding at times. Also the huge flow of water right up to the Bay of Bengal in the deltaic region, many islands are getting inundated; some of the islands in the Sundarbans have vanished. Totally vanished.

VOICE: The loss of islands in neighboring Bangladesh has caused migrations to northeastern India. But just as serious as overflowing water levels is the opposite extreme.

Dr. Mihir Deb: So on one hand you’ll have initially a surge of water because of the melting. And then maybe after a couple of decades, there will be no more ice to melt. So then the water level will fall. And it will have a disastrous effect on the agriculture. Because a huge population lives in these northern plains of India in which the rivers are being fed by glaciers.

India, in particular has about 16% of the global population but only 4% of the water resources. A large part of India is already having very severe water scarcity and also there are other parts which are getting flooded.

We have to be aware of these problems. We have to spread this awareness far and wide as much as we can. Then we will have a better planet to live in.

VOICE: We thank Dr. Deb for explaining the current situation in India. We pray for the people and the land of India to be safeguarded as much as possible from the effects of climate change.