As the summer advances and thirsty cities across the country impose water cuts, a new report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was published on Friday, makes some grim forecasts for India. IPCC suggests in this report that our water crisis could worsen beyond all imagination.
The worst-case scenario is that the Himalayan glaciers, which feed the Ganga, will dry up. Water flow in the river, which is holy and utilitarian for millions, will drop by two-thirds. Around 400 million people could thirst for water, even as irrigation facilities and hydroelectric plants stop functioning.
Of course, this is only an extreme possibility. It is very possible that human ingenuity eventually ensures that the worst effects of global warming are avoided. But it is now increasingly clear that global warming is a grim reality.
There are still some sceptics out there, but the scientific consensus can no longer be ignored. The debate now has to shift to what needs to be done—by the state and markets.