INEXORABLE HEAT OF INDIAN SUMMER
Temperature 48 degree Celsius and still soaring, is Indian summer likely to shatter all previous records? Day and night temperatures are continuously rising. Relentless Sun is beyond human endurance. The Sun that gave gift of life to this planet is now extinguishing lives of many with its unabated fury. Soaring mercury is taking human toll every day. The killer heat wave has not only affected human life, it has caused massive damage to live stock as well.
All parts of the country are reeling under intense heat wave. As mercury shot up, March and April witnessed unprecedented heat wave. These two months have already surpassed highest temperature record in the past 100 years. Globally also 2010 so far has been the hottest year on record.
Environmentalists say increase in atmospheric heat is largely human contribution. It is nature’s callous irony; the gasses that make life on earth possible now threaten its very existence. Greenhouse gasses which are part of Earth’s atmosphere trap warmth emitted by the Sun, thus heating the Earth. This process known as greenhouse effect makes life on this planet possible. Without natural greenhouse gasses Earth’s temperature would have been chilly -18 degree Celsius. With greenhouse effect the Earth temperature is maintained around 14 degree Celsius.
Over the past 100 years, the average temperature on Earth has risen a little less than 1o Celsius. Negligible it may seem, but it is responsible for cyclones, storms, floods, forest fires and other natural calamities. Increasing heat in the atmosphere depends upon wind pattern. While easterly winds bring monsoon rains, the southerly winds induced by Western disturbances (this word daily echoed by IMD officials) cause intense warming. The Sun is perpetually blazing from 150 million kilometres away. As long as ecological balance is maintained there is no harm to human life, any disturbance in the ecological balance due to human activity can bring irreparable damage to life on this planet. Urbanization and rapid industrialization have come with heavy cost. Increase in atmospheric heat is one of the consequences. Carbon dioxide is prime reason for manmade climate change. Smoke emitted by chimneys, vehicles and other sources of pollutants have increased Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 40%.
Methane gas is number two among manmade climate warmer. Emissions from volcanoes, wetlands, marshes, coal mines and vents from stomach of live stocks release methane in the atmosphere. Though quantity of methane may be low in the atmosphere but it has more lethal effect on global warming.
Nitrous oxide (widely known as laughing gas) is the third most important greenhouse gas emitted through human activity. Excessive use of nitrogen as fertilizer has led to increase of Nitrous oxide emissions in the atmosphere.
Heat wave has also caused collateral damage in the form of water crisis and power outages. High temperatures are becoming more uncomfortable due to longer power cuts due to high demand for electricity in summer. Since our capacity to increase power generation is limited, relief from power outages will not be possible till Govt’s nuclear policy materializes. Nuclear energy is the only hope of clean energy; coal based power plants release profuse amount of Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Water crisis is yet another consequence of global warming. Underground water table is fast depleting and unable to meet growing demand for water. Many parts of our country are facing draught like situation due to failed monsoon in the previous year.
Shelter less people suffer most due to unabated heat wave coupled with high degree of humidity. If the heat wave remains as severe as it is the Govt may soon think of announcing Heat Wave Relief Scheme.
Summer in the past like other seasons had its own charm. Occasional thunder showers and hail storms caused by Western disturbances always brought relief from oppressive heat for some days. Succulent summer fruits (without injected sweetness) were liked by all.
Homemade beverages were great summer gifts. Come summer and a trip to a hill station was eagerly awaited in the summer vacations. The experience of holidaying in a summer resort always brought freshness in life. Today heat wave has not spared even the hills; high temperatures and shortage of water and power have robbed them of their charm.
Till such time the heat wave abates and monsoon brakes here are a few tips to avoid heat syndrome.
• Drink lot of water and pour some on your head wherever and whenever you can.
• Avoid outdoor trips; if necessary apply sun screen lotion every two hours.
• Avoid cut fruits, juices and ‘injected’ fruits from the market, if you want to avoid visit to the doctor home grown fruits are the best for your health.
• Wear loose fitting and light coloured clothes, keep your ‘tights’ away for some time because health is more important than glamour.
• Eat lots of summer fruits especially ‘waterful’ variety but remember not to throw away the seeds, sow them in your kitchen garden to grow for the next summer.
• Drink ‘mango pana’, ‘khas sherbet’, ‘ bel sherbet’, ‘sattu’, ‘nimbu paani’. But forget them if you are a beer guzzler, beer will keep you in high spirits even if summer heat breaks your thermometer.
• Go to hills at the first opportunity. If you can’t make a trip to the hills just open your photo album and longingly stare at the pictures of snow peaked mountains, green valleys, shower of snow flakes and rain drops falling on plant leaves , you had clicked on your last summer vacations on the hills.
The irony is if we are allowed to be on the hills forever, we will miss the plains and the summer heat we want to escape.
Truly, man is a fool
When it’s hot he wants it cool
When it’s cool he wants it hot
He always wants what it’s not
But we keep our hopes of early relief from the cruel heat wave alive; if summer comes, can monsoon be far behind.In the meantime pray for good monsoon and bountiful rain.