Proponents of climate alarmism have long claimed that developing countries like India will be the worst affected by climate change. Their claims cannot be farther from reality.
With a population of 1.3 billion people and millions emigrating out of the country every year, India’s contribution to the global economy is significant.
Traditionally agrarian, India has become increasingly dependent on its growing industrial sector. The country’s energy sector serves as the backbone of its industries, and it derives 72 percent (2014) of its electricity from coal plants.
That shouldn’t be a surprise, given India’s abundant coal reserves, which guarantee inexpensive and affordable electricity to a nation where poverty is still rampant. The country is also keen on building new nuclear and hydroelectric plants.
In recent years, however, India has been heckled by the United Nations and other global institutions to reduce its dependence on coal and install more expensive—and unreliable—wind and solar energy sources.
The reason? Climate alarmism!
Climate alarmists have long stated that carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) from human activity, like burning coal for energy, is the main reason for what they say is a “dangerous” increase in global temperature (perhaps as much as 1.2˚C since 1850).
It is true that carbon dioxide emissions have dramatically increased in the past three decades. But the temperature levels have barely risen along with them, and the two show no coherence.
In fact, evidence suggests that there has been no significant increase in temperatures during the past two decades. This sobering reality was even acknowledged by leading climate alarmists. Yet the alarmist narrative continues in the mainstream media.
It has also been proved that the alarmist temperature projections generated by computer climate models have been way off the mark, failing to reflect real-world temperatures. The models failed miserably to capture the changes in the temperature during the past 20 years.
In India, climate alarmists predicted an agricultural nightmare resulting from CO2-induced climate change. However, a closer inspection reveals something very different.
North and central India have had better rainfall in the past five decades than the early 20th century. Record highs in Indian cities exhibit no significant increase in the past two decades. This does not bode well for the alarmist narrative, which claims that temperatures are on a linear upward trend.
The southern city of Chennai, for example, recorded its highest temperature in 2003. The imaginary trends of alarmists are nowhere to be seen.
The country had numerous record highs in the year of 2016 due to the super-El Niño phenomenon (warming of the tropical Pacific, which in turn warms the air that circulates globally), which pushed temperature upwards. Since then, temperatures have largely remained close to the historical averages.
The everyday lows during the early months of 2018 in southern India show no marked increase from their historical average. If anything, they have been below average at some places.
And as we speak, tropical sea temperatures have registered a record drop, contradicting the alarmist narrative of increasing ocean temperatures, leading into a La Niña that will likely draw global temperature back down.
And it is not just India’s weather phenomena that contradict the warming mantra. Its agricultural sector has produced record crop output in the last two years—dealing a lethal blow to the alarmist narrative of agricultural collapse.
India should not be forced to abandon its coal when its agricultural sector is actually benefitting from the climatic conditions and there has been no warming-induced increase in extreme weather events.
India’s industrial sector provides the right balance for a country that was traditionally agrarian. Policies advocated by climate alarmists put both the agricultural and the industrial sectors in danger.
By branding coal the evil cancer of the society, alarmists are coercing India to abandon its most abundant, reliable, inexpensive, and easily accessible energy source—coal.
Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), Research Associate for Developing Countries for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, lives in Coimbatore, India.