Viewpoint: Cyclone Tauktae and Environmental Sustainability

23 MAY,2021 | MEDC


  • Cyclone Tauktae battered the Konkan coastline earlier this week, unleashing a trail of destruction in most of the littoral districts of Maharashtra. Tauktae – officially classified as an Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm is the fifth strongest cyclone in recorded history in the Arabian Sea. The warmer waters of the Bay of Bengal are typically more prone to cyclones vis-à-vis the relatively cooler Arabian Sea. But now – thanks to climate change – there is a visibly rising trend of more frequent and intense storms on the Western coastline of India.
  • The changing cyclonic trends run parallel with rising temperatures in the Indian Ocean. A 2014 study found that while the temperature of the Indian Ocean rose overall by 0.7 degrees Celsius, the generally colder Western Indian Ocean (including the Arabian Sea) experienced an unexpected warming of 1.2 degrees Celsius in the summer. The marine environment of the Arabian Sea is under increasing threat from rapid development, overfishing and pollution, and we need to change our consumption patterns if we are to promote its sustainability.
  • Humankind must learn to prioritize nature for any sustained recovery from Covid. The pandemic has proven to be a wake-up call for reinforcing the natural nexus between humans, animals and the environment. The preservation of nature has emerged as a critical pathway for containing the adverse effects of global warming and climate change, and thus for enabling the economy to grow in a more resilient and sustainable manner. If we fail to understand and respect the environment, we can expect to see a rising trend of cyclones and other natural disasters occurring in various parts of India, and nullifying whatever socioeconomic progress has already occurred therein.
  • Now that Covid is penetrating rural India, many areas therein are experiencing mass poverty, compounded by a decline in natural capital, biodiversity loss, land use change, natural resource exploitation, pollution and water security issues. Unsustainable agricultural practices, as well as improper management of wastewater and solid waste are among the root causes of environmental degradation, leading to climate change. Unfortunately, the business case for valuing and investing in nature remains inadequately framed and misunderstood. The rising number of cyclones and other natural disasters all over the world are just a visible manifestation of it.
  • We need to realize that nature is an integral component of investment and fiscal policy decisions in the post-pandemic socioeconomic revival of both urban and rural areas. Renewed emphasis should be laid on promoting nature-based solutions, including the usage of green technologies. There are several combinations of practices and policy interventions to protect and restore the flexibility of natural ecosystems. They will promote water security, integrated natural resources management, climate resilience, sustainable agriculture and nutritional diets. This maynecessitate a paradigm shift in governance … one which revolves around environmental sustainability. Most rides through the histories of natural disasters reveal that we need to work on ourenvironmental sensitivities. 


*Photo Credit: Google


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