Sunday, May 27, 2012

Are we prepared for total monsoon failure?

Hari Pulakkat in the Economic Times (India):  By the end of this week, the South West monsoon would have hit Indian shores. During a period of economic crisis, it would be one of the few welcome developments, although few people would look at it that way. The arrival of the South West monsoon is an event that is taken for granted, as surely as the arrival of summer or winter every year.

However, climatologists are now beginning to question this certitude. The South Indian monsoon has switched off completely in the past, sometimes for as much as ten seasons. Are we prepared for a scenario when the monsoon fails totally for ten years?

This question seems increasingly important as we - at least some countries - prepare responses to natural disasters. In India, policy-makers have prepared responses - at least in theory - for dealing with earthquakes, cyclones, tsunamis, infectious diseases like dengue fever and so on. They have discussed, probably without any serious conclusions, what would happen if there was a nuclear war between India and Pakistan.

No one has prepared a response or even remotely imagined a scenario where the monsoon fails completely, not just for a year but for a whole decade or forever. It would be India's ultimate natural disaster, following a nuclear war closely in terms of impact on people. Yet it is one disaster for which India would be completely unprepared...

Monsoon clouds over Lucknow, shot by Sunnyoraish, public domain

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