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From ‘Switzerland of India’ to a Climate Crisis

by Editorial Team
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From ‘Switzerland of India’ to a Climate Crisis

Once celebrated as the “Switzerland of India” by then-Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru for its excellent climate and beautiful forest landscape, Manipur today faces a stark transformation. The region, once renowned for its lush greenery, is slowly turning into a desert due to the deforestation activities by vested interests in reserved and protected areas. The climate is no longer moderate, and winters are so short that people hardly get to wear their winter clothes. Flash floods and droughts, phenomena unknown to our ancestors 30 years ago, have become common occurrences for the current generation.
The environmental degradation in Manipur is a microcosm of the global climate crisis. According to the Copernicus Climate Change Service in Europe, 2023 has been marked as the hottest year on record. The gradual increase in the Earth’s average temperature due to climate change is becoming alarmingly evident. Month after month, year after year, temperature records are being shattered. This trend is deeply concerning because high temperatures have devastating effects on ecosystems and human societies.
The rising global temperatures associated with climate change lead to numerous environmental problems. Chief among these are droughts, floods, and forest fires. Higher temperatures increase the rate of evaporation, reducing soil moisture and causing many areas to experience drought. This leads to decreased crop yields, threatening food security, increasing poverty, unemployment, and prompting migration. Additionally, lower water levels in reservoirs and declining groundwater levels result in widespread water scarcity.
Rising global temperatures also contribute to an increased risk of floods. Warmer air holds more moisture, leading to excessive rainfall and making many regions susceptible to flooding. This excess moisture in the air also intensifies storms. Furthermore, higher temperatures facilitate the spread of forest fires, as fuels ignite more easily. The heat extracts moisture from forests, turning lush greenery into tinder, highly susceptible to wildfires.
The impact of heat on human health is equally alarming. According to the World Health Organization, more than 166,000 people died due to heatwaves from 1998 to 2017. Between 2000 and 2016, the number of people affected by heatwaves increased by about 1.25 billion. Extreme temperatures are a significant cause of weather-related mortality. The World Meteorological Organization reported that extreme heat in the country during April and June last year resulted in around 110 deaths due to heatstroke. In 2021, heatstroke claimed the lives of 374 people.
In response to rising temperatures, it is crucial to remain vigilant and proactive. Efforts such as tree planting, reducing plastic use, promoting public transport, and adopting renewable energy sources must be continued and intensified. Conservation efforts must be upheld at every level to ensure that our planet remains habitable.
The crisis in Manipur underscores the urgent need for local and global action. The state’s deforestation issues and changing climate reflect broader environmental challenges that require immediate attention. By taking robust steps towards environmental preservation and sustainable practices, Manipur can lead by example in the fight against climate change. Only through sustained and concerted efforts can we hope to make the Earth suitable for human life once again. Manipur, with its rich history and natural beauty, must be at the forefront of this critical battle to preserve our environment for future generations.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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