I was on a call yesterday where there were many people from different parts of the country. Each of us spoke a bit about what we were witnessing around us. In some places there was extreme heat, like not experienced before. In another there were heavy storms with severe uprooting of trees and a lot of damage to roads and vehicles. In others the weather fluctuated from heat to rains in a methodical way. As I listened to each person, I couldn’t help but think about climate change’s real effects.
A part of me joked saying, wonder when we will begin acting like the climate crisis is here. Many of us in that meeting spoke about how our cities and spaces aren’t thinking about disasters in everyday ways. We are perhaps planning for those cyclones alone. Not the everyday extreme weathers. Perhaps in some cities, planning for disasters is easier, especially cities which have in the past dealt with cyclones or tsunamis or floods. Perhaps they are better prepared.
In 2020 itself, the Council on Energy, Environment and Water report shared that 75% of the districts in India are impacted by extreme weather events. In many ways these extreme events impact individual lives as much as they impact our overall wellbeing.
Part of the concern about climate crisis remains that we as a society are still reacting and planning like the climate crisis is in the future. A bit far away from us. Despite the repeated concerning and appalling reports that scientists release. This futuristic planning harms the cities most vulnerable who are at the frontlines of facing the effects of climate crisis at this moment. The futuristic planning also imagines perhaps large scale events vs these everyday occurrences of sudden rain or severe heat.
How can we understand and begin to respond to the fact that water scarcity, extreme heat and rise in health hazards are all part of the ongoing climate crisis? What are the areas in our cities that are vulnerable and need to be supported during the ongoing crisis? How can we build better response systems within our communities and institutions?
We would love to hear from you about your experiences around this and any insight you may have.