Climate change is accelerating Urbanization as the vulnerable may find difficult to survive

Ever asked how will the Climate change be a problem to callous or ignorant Humans? How are the impacts assessed or the relative vulnerabilities for a community or Nation decided? What can claim one as a weak or strong entity, I wonder!

Climate change is an all encompassing and compelling force of Nature, that can’t be subdued or averted. Rather, can only be mitigated and adapted to, that too at best and herculean efforts.

In 1990, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted that the single greatest impact of climate change will be on human migration and by 2050, more than 200 million people will be forced to flee their homes and settle elsewhere.

Earlier Displacements:

It has always been in the dedicated Historians of Indian Civilization, as to what led well-settled Harappan Civilization to suddenly quit it all and get displaced or scattered.

Two relevant studies on Migration, one in the past and one for recent 2019 were published. Both had something in common: A natural disaster and extreme weather events to make it inhospitable or at least difficult for Humans to survive.

IIT Kharagpur collated the data and concluded that climatic change caused the human migration during and after the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilisation, from West to the Ghaggar-Hakra valley in the east.

Recent Mass Mobilization:

It was visible throughout, that during Pandemic and the lockdown, people moved in huge numbers from different regions to their homes. Although the reason behind such exodus was the lack of facilities in their source cities, this situation bore a great impact of Climate change. What do we think this Pandemic was Born out of?

climate change and conditions for pandemic generation

India and Increasing migration:

According to a few recent researches, India has been proved to be both, the biggest source as well as destination for migrants.

Over the past 25 years, number of international Indian migrants has more than doubled, growing about twice as fast as the world’s total migrant population.

This is just the population that seeks the world outside India, what about the ones who have to adapt to the transition within, in order to serve their ends.

Not all journeys are made by choice, some may be forced. Climate Change is spinning the wheel:

With 7500 kms long coastline, India becomes vulnerable with Global Warming and increasing sea-level rise. India’s climate sensitive and inherently active Bay of Bengal is a mesh of several rivers’ deltas: Brahmaputra, Ganga, Teesta, Meghna to name a few.

These rivers are lifelines to its population, human as well as non-human. They cater to essential ecological services but any change to a river’s lifecycle may trigger other changes in surrounding areas.

When these mighty rivers draw-in plenty of sediments into these draining areas, there is excessive sedimentation into the sea, increased salinization or erosion, causing millions to move away because their homes and lands are being destroyed by what can be termed as climate change-related events.

Based on Migration Data Portal, “in the first half of 2020 alone, disasters displaced 9.8 million people and remained the leading trigger of new internal displacements globally.

Five countries accounted for nearly 75 per cent of the new internal displacements due to disasters in the first half of 2020 with India leading the pack, accounting for nearly three million people, followed by Bangladesh (2.5 million), Philippines (811,000), China (791,000) and Somalia (514,000).

Countries of South Asia will be notable to discuss in this regard. Bangladesh, Maldives, Indonesia, Philippines and Mekong- delta basin countries do continue to experience such loss of livelihood and property due to unbalanced water dynamics.

The incumbent risk of pre-monsoon extreme rainfall heightened by anthropogenic climate change in Bangladesh or the sinking cities of Indonesian bay or more frequent-Intense cyclones in South Asian waters, is a sign that all is not okay here.

Cyclone Amphan, Fani , Kyarr etc have similar stories to tell.

Certainly, different vulnerable populations are getting displaced in order to work, submit to their basic needs, raise their standards of living which is a far-fetched dream for a few. Circular migration is at times practiced by a migrant worker between home and host areas, out of sheer optimism that they can make a better life for themselves and their families in the urban and semi-urban regions of India’s already burdened Metropolitans.

This puts further pressure on inflated Urban areas, causing unhealthy slum conditions, prevailing diseases, increased dependencies on Governmental benefactions, increased stress on cities’ degrading water, air etc.

But is Migration in India just restricted to Coasts? A big No.

A population residing in an area knows best what it lacks, what it needs. They are surely the first ones to be impacted for any change introduced into an area. Then why do they just move and begin making changes to their immediate ecosystem.

Economic factors like money constraints, failed agriculture; Ecological issues like unhealthy water or no water and even Social constraints like stringent customs, ostracization can literally push a human to move elsewhere.

Everyone wants a good life to prosper, prevail and be remembered in those golden pages. In a democracy, as ensured by our article 19, we can stretch our legs across the entire country just to fit in a better fabric ourselves. After all, that’s life. To keep changing and evolving while your body grows along.

But Indian cities are crumbling down like an old bridge, a few of the favorite ones can’t seem to cater any more aspiring population but can the influx stop in this pretext. No.

More Evidence?

Deccma project 2018 concluded that most migration along Volta(Ghana) and so likely around the World, is economically driven. The project surveyed 1,315 households in the Sundarbans region too, to find that 18% of households had migrants. In the Mahanadi delta region, this figure accounted to be 24%.

They were apt to unveil that environmental stresses are disrupting livelihood security and contributing to the economic circumstances that necessitate migration.

How can the problem be avoided?

Maybe more sustainable and inclusive cities in the heartlands of Human civilization. Government has been quick to compose policies like 100 Smart cities, 500 cities to be covered under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation or erstwhile Rurban mission to assuage people with economic issues etc. lest their implementation is done efficiently.

Currently Climate change impacts are more pronounced than such monetary issues. Therefore, in areas wherein problems prevail, Government shall be quick enough to respond and alleviate such distress. Proper redressal and mitigation can reduce such unnecessary influx to destabilize cities.

comparison of shift in Migration

Industries for employment generation or centers for Skill Development can’t just be clustered around Mega cities. Such corridors need to be flourished along different regions, especially the ones facing such crisis.

However, it is important to note that with such construction and servicing, we may not aggravate the problems for Environment.

Afterall, True decentralization, safeguarding and empowering local population to thrive, providing them amenities or related infrastructure along with teaching them to love and respect their surroundings is an utmost necessity.