Mumbaikars are by and large conditioned to deal with change, no matter how sudden. And an unseasonal couple of days’ rain is nothing to the city’s residents, who merely use newspaper and carrier bags as makeshift protection, and run for cover. The day’s business rarely gets interrupted. For the average city-dweller, urban compulsions mean that sudden rain is equal to rushing for an earlier train, or remembering to carry an umbrella, or buying an extra newspaper in case it is needed for shelter or for use as a seat liner. We “manage”, and carry on with life, no matter what the weather.
But we cannot remain imperturbable for long. Aside from the fact that sudden rain can lead to the spread of infections, unseasonal climatic events of this sort are a portent of something bigger. Weather is what’s happening outside the door right now; climate is the pattern of weather measured over a number of decades. And our climate is changing.
Extreme weather events are being reported from all over the world. Sea levels are rising as the glaciers melt. Closer to home, all over India water sources are drying, summers are harsher, and winters short. Farmers have been reporting changes in crop output, quality, and frequency. In Maharashtra, farmers committing suicide is, tragically, almost a routine story. Climate change can no longer be doubted, or sidelined.
Neither can we say that it is a problem for “someone else” to take care of. From the largest corporation to the last individual, each of us can do our bit, no matter how small or large, to reduce our burden on the planet.
Meanwhile, in Mumbai, the authorities are all set to chop down 2,298 trees to make way for the Metro’s third line. Trees play a major role by absorbing man-made carbon dioxide emissions, besides enhancing evaporation and cloud cover, and cooling the earth. It is beyond ironic that we are decimating the city’s trees, and will probably install more air-conditioners to cool the air around us. Even as our world dies a little more.