by Qysar Ul Islam Shah
The current climatic conditions in Kashmir raise concerns, particularly for those involved in agriculture, such as fruit growers and farmers. The agricultural sector, heavily reliant on surface irrigation, faces heightened vulnerability due to water scarcity.
In Kashmir Valley, a plea echoes through the air: Oh Allah, shower upon us abundant rain, beneficial and swift, not harmful or delayed!
As days pass, unsettling weather conditions grip the region. Concerned faces dot the landscape, with a blend of foggy and sunny days replacing the accustomed wetness and snowfall.
Unlike previous years, where a white blanket covered the earth and frost adorned Jammu and Kashmir, this year paints a contrasting picture. Local changes, such as deforestation and urban expansion, exacerbate the situation. The cherished tourist destinations of Gulmarg, Sonamarg, and Yusmarg, once draped in white, now witness a different reality.
This deviation stems from our collective oversight of sustainability. The consequences of our actions, driven by egoism and overexploitation, are evident. Our legacy to the next generation hangs in the balance, as our natural resources face depletion. The reckless exploitation and contamination of these resources compound the issue, leaving us in a precarious situation – caught between the consequences of our actions and the impending challenges ahead.
In the Chillai-Kalan, traditionally the coldest in Kashmir, an unseasonably warm trend has emerged, presenting concerns and challenges. This deviation from the usual cold climate prompts a reflection on a foretelling by our ancestors. They foresee an impact on the ecology with the chugging of trains into Kashmir!
The rising average temperatures in Jammu and Kashmir contribute to a landscape where even in January and February, trees exhibit signs of new growth with leaves and buds.
In the Himalayan region, such as Kashmir, where tourism plays a pivotal role in the local economy, residents are grappling with significant challenges due to unusual weather patterns. Popular winter sports like skiing and sledging draw visitors from around the world, but the erratic behaviour of snowfall is impacting the tourism sector.
Warmer conditions have led to a decline in tourists, affecting travel agencies and hotels, and subsequently, the tourism industry faces a gradual decline. If these weather conditions persist, it could pose unprecedented challenges for fruit growers, agriculturalists, and those in leadership roles.
Amidst these climatic challenges, the education sector emerges as a potential influencer by incorporating climate awareness into schools and colleges. This proactive step aims to inform and prepare younger generations for the evolving environmental scenario. Globally, climate change has triggered significant weather patterns, and Kashmir is no exception, presenting formidable challenges for both researchers and residents.
The weather pattern in the Kashmir Valley has become irregular and unpredictable. Precipitation is either excessive and relentless or the region experiences unbearable sunny conditions, indicative of global warming. Environmentalists attribute these fluctuations, such as reduced or absent snowfall, heavy rains, and cloudbursts, to ongoing changes in the global weather system.
As of January 22, 2024, Kashmir remains devoid of any significant snowfall, underscoring a continuous shift in weather patterns. Additionally, the region faces the challenge of dwindling water resources, with each passing day witnessing a gradual decrease in available water supply.
The current climatic conditions in Kashmir raise concerns, particularly for those involved in agriculture, such as fruit growers and farmers. The agricultural sector, heavily reliant on surface irrigation, faces heightened vulnerability due to water scarcity. Over the past decade, seasonal patterns in Kashmir Valley have witnessed a loss of distinctiveness.
Drawing lessons from developed nations grappling with the impacts of climate change, it is evident that environmental damage is often irreversible. Urgent measures are required, including a substantial tree plantation initiative, reduction of pollution, and curbing emissions from industries, vehicles, and brick kilns. Ignoring these issues could result in significant consequences. Environmental awareness is crucial in preventing further harm to our surroundings.
Nation builders play a pivotal role in instilling the principles of sustainable development in the younger generation. Preserving the environment for future generations is a collective duty. The planting of more trees emerges as a practical step to mitigate the effects of severe climatic changes. Awareness and action are essential elements in safeguarding our environment.
(The author is a teacher from Sonnar, Darpora. Ideas are personal.)