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Mizoram getting warmer at alarming pace

Zodin Sanga, Aizawl (May 25): Tempers are ‘running high’ in the state’s science and technology department and the atmosphere in Mizoram is no longer pleasant, literally. Owing to rapid deforestation mainly due to slash-andburn cultivation, Mizoram has experienced the highest increase in temperature over the past 15 years, scientists from state’s science and technology department said. Mizoram is blessed with a moderate climate — neither so hot in summers nor so cold in winters.

But this natural air conditioning will soon become a thing of the past with the rise in temperature. Sources from the state’s science and technology department said the mountainous state has become warmer by 2.75 degrees Celsius over the past 15 years, against the average global surface temperature of 0.6 degrees Celsius to 2.5 degrees Celsius.

“The present rate at which Aizawl’s temperature is climbing the scale is even higher than the estimated minimum rate of global warming for the next 50 years,” one of the department officials said, adding that a detailed study on climatic changes requires a proper meteorological observatory, which the state still lacks.

When the mercury soared to 29 to 30 degrees Celsius in Aizawl in the past few days, it became unbearable for people like 70-year-old Rozami. “You don’t need any scientific instrument… my body itself could feel the rapid increase in temperature. Aizawl was never hot like this when we were young. The increase in temperature appears to be faster in the past five years,” she said.

The main cause behind the rapid increase in temperature in Aizawl, according to science and technology department’s principal scientific officer Dr Vanlalzara, is the ecological imbalance caused by unplanned urbanisation, rather than the greenhouse effect, which generally is the main reason in the rest of the world. “As we all know, Delhi’s temperature is very high during summers. But the city has large areas of man-made forests within it and its surroundings which prevent global warming to a great extent,” one of the officials said.

Local scientist C Rokhuma, who has been maintaining a private meteorological observation for the past 14 years at his Mission Vengthlang residence, has recorded that the average temperature in Mizoram jumped from 25.64 degrees Celsius in 2000 to 30 degrees Celsius in 2011 during this time of the year. The average temperature in 2005 was 26.63 degrees Celsius.

Attributing the increasing greenhouse effect to extensive deforestation caused by the age-old shifting cultivation, the Padma Shri laureate emphasised on the need to protect “our green gold” — the forests. The climate change in Mizoram can be clearly gauged from the pattern of rainfall, which has become irregular for the past 10 years, according to Rokhuma.

“Mizos gave different names to rain based on the time of their occurrence. But what we used to call pawldelh ruah and thuangruah, which is experienced during the spring season, has become irregular and sometimes completely absent.”

The decreasing rainfall and dewdrop has brought about considerable damage to winter crops and also contributed to increased temperature,” the 95-year-old said. The primitive slash-andburn method of cultivation is a major cause behind the massive destruction of forests and its subsequent greenhouse emissions.

According to figures provided by the forest department relating to 10 out of the 14 territorial divisions, at least 17,046.33 hectares of forest are destroyed by forest fires every year caused by jhum burning. Despite that, Mizoram still ranks number one in the country in terms of the percentage of forest cover in relation to total geographical area with 90.68% still under forest cover.

~ Seven Siste’s Post
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