Blame it on the rain..

Posted: November 3, 2010

..…the rain don’t mind was a popular song by Milli Vanilli. That is also a mantra among policy makers, academics, development workers and communities today. Only, instead of the rain, the default scapegoat is climate change, and to judge from the many controversies surrounding it, a great many people do mind. I was lucky enough to carry out a survey on the impact of climate change in the mountain villages of Uttarakhand [1]. And that convinced me like no published article has that climate change is here. Now.

The people of the Bhagirathi and Pindar valleys would laugh if you told them that people are still divided about whether the climate is changing. The rhododendron that once flowered in April can now be seen in February.  More important, perhaps, from a sustenance point of view is the effect of these changes on agriculture.

The changes that the villagers experience are many..but the root changes in climate, the initial boulders that cause an avalanche of changes are only two: lessened precipitation and lack of freezing temperatures. These further lead to a decrease in winter crops, decrease in apple productivity, increased pestilience and changes in ecosystem composition. Some villagers have taken heed of the inevitability of this change and started growing tomatoes- previously unknown at those altitudes.

But what can they do about the bewilderment that a changing landscape causes. Villager after villager told me sadly, “himalaya khali ho rahein hain”. Blame it on the rain, its going away soon.

[1] Peoples Science Institute, 2009, Documenting Climate Change in Uttarakhand. Study conducted with assistance from Himmothhan Trust. Available from the Peoples Science Institute, Dehradun.

Chicu lives in Uttarakhand and defines herself as a natural resource manager, traveller, and latent

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