Guwahati, the bustling metropolis nestled in the heart of Assam, is a growing city. However, in recent years, this picturesque city has been grappling with a growing menace – rising temperatures.
Global warming, driven by human activities and exacerbated by pollution, is causing temperatures in Guwahati to soar, posing significant challenges to both the environment and its residents.
Understanding the causes
- Global warming: The primary driver of rising temperatures in Guwahati is global warming. This phenomenon results from the increased concentration of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), in the Earth’s atmosphere. These gases trap heat from the sun, leading to a gradual increase in the planet’s average temperature. While this warming is a global issue, its impacts are felt locally in cities like Guwahati.
- Air pollution: Guwahati, like many other urban areas, is plagued by air pollution. Emissions from vehicles, industries, and biomass burning release pollutants such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere. These pollutants not only degrade air quality but also contribute to the greenhouse effect, intensifying the warming of the city.
- Deforestation and land use changes: The conversion of forests and green spaces into urban areas, agriculture, and infrastructure development leads to the loss of vegetation, which plays a crucial role in regulating local temperatures. Trees and plants absorb CO2 and release oxygen, while also providing shade and cooling effects. The loss of green cover in and around Guwahati exacerbates the urban heat island effect, where cities become significantly warmer than their surrounding rural areas.
- Increased temperatures: Guwahati has witnessed a steady rise in temperatures over the past few decades. Summers have become more scorching, leading to discomfort for residents and adversely affecting the city’s ecosystems. Rising temperatures can also have dire consequences for vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions.
- Altered rainfall patterns: Global warming can disrupt local weather patterns, leading to erratic rainfall in Guwahati. This not only affects agriculture but can also result in water scarcity and a higher risk of droughts, which can have far-reaching socio-economic implications.
- Impacts on biodiversity: Guwahati is known for its rich biodiversity, including the famous Dipor Beel, Amchang, Silsako Beel etc. Rising temperatures can disrupt the habitats of various wildlife species, leading to changes in migration patterns, breeding seasons, and food availability. This threatens the delicate balance of ecosystems and can endanger numerous species.
- Health hazards: The combination of increased temperatures and air pollution can pose serious health risks. Heatwaves become more frequent and intense, increasing the likelihood of heat-related illnesses. Poor air quality exacerbates respiratory problems and cardiovascular diseases, putting residents’ health at risk.
Mitigation and adaptation
Addressing the issue of rising temperatures in Guwahati requires a multi-pronged approach:
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions: Implementing policies and practices that reduce emissions from industries, transportation, and energy production is crucial. Encouraging the use of public transport, promoting renewable energy sources, and enforcing emissions standards can help mitigate global warming.
- Promoting green infrastructure: Guwahati should prioritize urban planning that includes green spaces, parks, and tree-lined streets. This not only helps in mitigating the urban heat island effect but also enhances the city’s aesthetic appeal.
- Air quality improvement: Implementing stringent measures to reduce air pollution is essential. This includes enforcing emission standards for vehicles, promoting cleaner technologies, and reducing industrial emissions.
- Raising awareness: Educating the public about the impacts of rising temperatures and pollution is crucial. Engaging in conservation efforts and adopting sustainable practices can help individuals contribute to the city’s resilience against climate change.
Guwahati’s rising temperatures are a stark reminder of the global climate crisis and the local consequences of human actions. Combating this issue requires concerted efforts at the global, national, and local levels. As the city grapples with the heat, it must prioritize sustainable development, pollution control, and climate resilience to ensure a brighter, cooler future for generations to come.
(The author is a teacher and a resident of Guwahati.)