By Sandeep Sahu
The projections are scary. Odisha could emerge as the hottest state in India by 2100 if mitigating measures are not taken urgently, warns an exhaustive, worldwide study done by researchers at the University of Chicago.
While average annual temperature in the rest of the country is set to rise from 24 to 28 degrees Celsius, it could rise from the present 28.87 degrees to 32.17 degrees in Odisha, says the India Climate Prospectus, a collaborative effort by the University of Chicago, Climate Impact Lab and Tata Centre for Development (TCD), released in Bhubaneswar last month. More worryingly, the study predicts that the number of days of extreme hot days (above 35 degrees Celsius) in Odisha could rise by a staggering 30 times from 1.62 to 48.8 while it would rise around eight times in the rest of the country. The toll in terms of human lives lost due to heatwave could be as much as 42, 334.
But don’t these figures amount to scare-mongering? Dr. Amir Jina, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago, who was closely involved in the study, does not agree. “The projected mortality figure comes with a rider. It will come true only if we don’t take measures to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change by reducing our carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions significantly. The projections are meant to motivate governments across the world to weigh the benefits of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and switch to a low emission strategy. As a leading contributor to such emissions, India in general and Odisha, in particular, needs to start taking measures right away,” he told Outlook.