In my attempt to keep up with current events around the globe, my bedtime ritual has begun to include reading the news. For the last few months I have been following the alarming water shortage affecting the people of India. The first article I encountered discussed the impact of the 2-year long drought on India’s people and their struggle to maintain their farms and preserve their way of life. The men of India have begun to take their own lives because of failing crops, loss of livestock and their crushing debt due to predatory-like loans.
What is happening?
As the world covers the water crisis going on in Marathwada, India, it has become apparent that the impact of climate change will have devastating effects on countries unable to weather climate change. According to T.V. Padma, a journalist with newscientist.com states that “India’s attempt to get it’s agriculture into a state where drought has no negative impact on the economy-are, at best patchy (2).” The Indian government offers drought insurance to farmers, but most living in India are too poor to pay the premiums. The irregularity of the Monsoonal rains has devastated farms because most of Marathwada’s farming community relies heavily on seasonal rains instead of other forms of irrigation.
What can be done?
In the past decade, India has come to realize that growing sugar cane requires too much water and is not a drought resistant crop. The Conservative Group on International Agriculture Research has been working diligently on developing seeds to be grown in drought-frequent countries such as Africa and Central Asia (1). The crops considered for lands of dryer climate are millet, sorghum, legumes, and corn. However, the seeds being created to withstand the impending changing climate are being developed in biological laboratories. The controversy surrounding genetically modified organisms is a definite concern, but for countries like India the result of using biological technologies for farming purposes could ultimately save millions from economic hardship and possibly even starvation.
What does Colorado have to do with India?
As temperatures continue to increase in the Rocky Mountains as will the probability of drought. One of the many concerns related to drought include reservoirs becoming too low to sustain municipal populations and wildlife ecosystems placing enormous stress on both environments (3). Another concern is the elevated risk of forest fires caused by early snow melts and infrequent precipitation. The two conditions combined can turn a forest into a tinder box with devastating results. According to to Union of Concerned Scientists “changes are outside the range of natural variability for the West, and are largely driven by human-caused climate change.” The state of Colorado must continue to consider the best approach in water conservation because without proper protection and maintenance Colorado could one day encounter a similar environmental disaster like Marathwada, India. According to the National Association of Social Workers, “Evidence suggests that all elements of the global ecosystem are under attack and threatened in ways that may be reaching the point of irreversibility.”