“This is the decade of decision. The window is narrow and it’s closing very rapidly. I think that if we don’t take action in these five to six years, we might just miss the bus. I don’t even want to think about that scenario.” It’s sobering to hear an environmental scientist working with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says these words. Minal Pathak, who’s also a faculty member at the Ahmedabad University, where she helps coordinate the Global Centre for Environment and Energy, was speaking to me about climate change for my weekly podcast, the Mint Climate Change Tracker, last week. We spoke on a variety of subjects, from climate change and cities to climate justice. “We can’t afford to say development first or climate change first,” she said, “we have to find solutions that take both into account, and I think not doing enough would just exacerbate the existing inequalities.”
To follow climate change as a subject can be overwhelming. The sheer scale of the problem can be nerve wracking. Yet, despite a pandemic ravaging the world, climate change remains the biggest existential crisis facing humanity today. Acknowledging this fact, Mint Lounge began a weekly column, called the Climate Change Tracker, exactly a year ago. Later, in November 2019, came the podcast, hosted by HT Smartcast, to talk about the perils of climate change.
In that first installment of the column a year ago, I wrote about India’s variable monsoon rainfall. Earlier this week, I wrote about the monsoon again. I had to, because we’re seeing the same pattern of variable rainfall being played out again. This is exactly how climate change works. The same, previously anomalous, shocks keep recurring, year after year. After a while, the anomalous becomes the new normal. Monsoon rainfall variability, that is, long periods of dry spells, punctuated by sudden, violent cloudbursts, are becoming more and more common with each passing year.