Kerala, the glorious “God’s own country”, is endowed with greenery, lagoons and a marine ecosystem, all spread over 38,863 km². Comprising only 1.18% of India’s landmass, Kerala sits between the Lakshadweep Sea to the west and the well-forested mountain range, the Western Ghats, to the east.
The state has three climatically distinct regions with a 560 km coastal belt. In the eastern part we have uplands with mountainous terrain adorned with tropical rainforests, central hills and western warm and humid lowlands containing a diversity of freshwater, brackish water and marine ecosystems that constitute the coastal plain.
The climatic conditions of Kerala are influenced by the seasonal showers of rain brought by the blessed monsoon. Kerala’s biodiversity and ecosystem provide satisfactory services to humanity in several ways, directly and indirectly. These ecosystem services include water purification, soil erosion control, flood control, agricultural pollination, carbon storage, climate regulation and the generation of oxygen by green spaces through photosynthesis.
The Western Ghats perform essential hydrological and hydrological functions. Two hundred and fifty million people depend on the Western Ghats for drinking water in peninsular India. In Kerala, the origin and source of water for our rivers come from these Ghats.
The unprecedented and alarming rate of degradation is advancing towards our precious environment and biodiversity today. Unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, soil erosion, land use change and deterioration of soil quality, sea level rise in low lying areas, forest degradation, loss of biodiversity, drop in water tables , pollution and waste buildup, change in virulence, and disease pattern, especially waterborne and vector-borne diseases.
New infectious diseases have been discovered every year due to paradigms related to climate change in recent decades; several diseases are drug resistance, reappearance of old diseases like diphtheria, cholera, dengue, yellow fever, etc.
The environmental sustainability of our livelihood is deteriorating, climate change is at its looming peak, and the gap between the rich and the poor is growing dangerously; even threatening the system are the main issues to be addressed over the coming year.
Ecosystems such as wetlands, forests, mountainous terrain and green covers are alarmingly depleted in Kerala and pose a powerful threat to tackle climate change. While Kerala’s current environmental trends are unsustainably managed, especially with regard to resource depletion, climate change has caused torrential rains, droughts, floods, landslides, a global epidemic of pandemic; the disease can predict an unstable situation with a series of catastrophic implications.
Rapid and more strategy-oriented corrective actions must be necessary to address these looming challenges. Otherwise, an adverse scenario is more likely. The recurring floods caused by torrential rains and landslides that have followed in recent years and followed by unprecedented droughts have demanded from Kerala a nature-based solution that involves working with nature to better conserve, manage, protect or restore very demanding and critical or fragile ecosystems.
A nature-based solution includes a wide range of terrestrial, aquatic and marine habitats. It must be designed and implemented in partnership with local communities and stakeholders in a decentralized manner. Resilience in designing to provide measurable benefits to biodiversity is the key factor in a nature-based solution. The contribution of financial and technical expertise of national and global dimensions is the main source of its success. Kerala needs a global, multidimensional, long-term environmental strategy and goals to build a better and brighter future.
Research and development of new technologies to mitigate climate change, such as carbon capture and reuse, aquaponics, hydroponics, vertical urban farming facilities in high-rise buildings, saltwater agriculture, pure meat without growing animals, electric cars, advanced solar energy acquisition systems, maglev trains, urban biodiversity conservation, improvement of green cover and reforestation, use of water sources Renewable energy and technology-enhanced mitigation measures are the best choices.
Our vision of development must have a design oriented towards the conservation of the environment, biodiversity, landscapes, critical ecosystems and hot spots, associated with decentralized governance and the essential participation of populations. The development of Kerala must have a policy making the best use of the world class scientific and technological trends available to keep in mind the basic needs of present and future generations.
(Author, Dr KP Laladhas is Principal of St Stephen’s College, Pathanapuram, Kerala, Former Secretary Member of Kerala State Biodiversity Board and Former Member of Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority. The views expressed are personal.)
The above article was posted from a wireframe source with minimal title and text edits.