A changing climate

The record breaking hurricane Irma which has devastated the Caribbean region and is headed into Florida as this is being written has twice the destructive power of all World War II munitions.

It is an irony that the USA which has pulled out of the Paris Climate accord has been hit by never before seen size and frequency of hurricanes.

To be clear these hurricanes and weather phenomenon is not caused per say by climate change as there isn’t enough data to support that claim, but what is sure is that a warming globe is making extreme weather events stronger.

Across the world, this year itself, we have seen record breaking rains and floods in many parts of the world.

Bhutan itself has not been spared with an unusually heavy monsoon that led to numerous landslides, road blocks and also flooding.  It was in fact only last year that heavy rains again led to natural disasters in Bhutan.

It has become clear that global warming is making extreme weather patterns worse not only a decade or five early basis but now on an annual basis.

For Bhutan this will mean factoring a worsening climate and weather situation into our policies and plans for the future.

One example of this is ensuring that future road tenders have higher specifications like better drainage for dealing with such rains. We will also have to invest in existing important infrastructure like our national highways to make sure that weak points are remedied in advance.

Extreme climate will have a huge impact on our agricultural sector which is still the largest employer and source of income for the majority of Bhutanese. Mitigation measures as far as it is  feasible will have to be taken in this field.

Apart from transport and our food, climate change will impact a variety of other areas.

One big impact that Bhutan is already facing is drying springs and as a result increasing water shortages in many parts of the country. The government’s Water Commission is a nod in this direction and it has to be one of the many steps that have to be taken up at a war footing.

Bhutan has always adapted well to changes around it, and so this can be a positive from which we can move ahead in adapting to a warmer world with more extreme weather.

Our country has been one of the few ecological heroes and examples in the world carrying more than our fair share and setting positive examples. So all the forests we have preserved and the environment we have kept safe and clean will help us more than anything else in the tough times to come.

We will have to anticipate the big changes that are coming and take necessary corrective measures.

Climate change is no longer some far off problem; it is happening here and it is happening now.
Barack Obama

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