The Supreme Court demanded to know why the state allegedly received only ₹ 3.15 crore to fight the flames, while a demand of ₹ 10 crore was made.

Supreme Court questions Centre, Uttarakhand over forest fires

The Supreme Court questioned the central and the Uttarakhand government about a shortage of funds and the divergence of guards to election responsibilities as the state attempts to suppress hundreds of active wildfires. Stating the “sorry state of affairs,” the apex court demanded to know why the state allegedly received only ₹ 3.15 crore to fight the flames, while a demand of ₹ 10 crore was made. The court then also asked to know why the centre insisted on giving forest officers authority over elections. Some reports claimed that forest officials were appointed on election duty despite orders from The National Green Tribunal (NGT) and other relevant authorities to not do so during the forest fire season. This in turn resulted in poor preparation by the forest department.

La Nina effect may lead to above-normal rain and floods in India

Monsoon that begins in June may witness above average rainfalls and floods as conditions have turned favourable for the La Nina weather phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean to start in the next few months, the Climate Prediction Centre of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the US said. The phenomenon could form as early as June-August 2024, with higher confidence during the following seasons, HT reported. 

In India, La Nina is associated with a strong monsoon and above average rains and colder winters in the subcontinent. The report said a transition from El Nino to ENSO-neutral is likely in the next month (June). La Nina may develop in June-August (49% chance) or July-September (69% chance), according to NOAA projections. The weather bureau had earlier forecast above normal monsoon at 106% of the long-period average, a year after this number was below normal at 94%.ia 

Meanwhile, a massive dust storm (50-60 km/hr winds) that left at least 14 people dead and 74 injured in Mumbai on Monday was the result of ground heating, abundant moisture, and instability in the atmosphere, HT reported.

Stop deforestation, land degradation by 2030: UN forum on forests

Deforestation should be urgently stopped and further degradation of land should be halted by 2030 for the world to stay on the path of sustainable development, the UN Forum on Forests said in a declaration at the conclusion of its 19th session on Friday. India shared its contentious Green Credit Programme at the conference, HT reported. 

The declaration reaffirmed the UN Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-30 as a global framework for action to protect and sustainably manage forests and trees outside forests and contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other international forest-related goals.

At the conference India shared the launch of its Green Credit Programme that provides incentives to entities to take up tree plantation and restoration of degraded forests, the environment ministry said on Sunday. According to the HT report the increase in the country’s ambiguously defined forest cover and the Green Credit Programme are contentious issues as corporations have been allowed to take up plantations on degraded land, including open forest and scrub land, wasteland and catchment areas of water bodies identified by state forest departments, even as environmentalists have pointed out that a lot of such land already has thriving biodiversity, which will now be at risk from plantations.

‘Land Squeeze’: 1% of largest farms control 70% of the world’s farmland, says global study

Around 87% of land grabs in global deals since 2000 have occurred in high biodiversity regions, while major new pressures were emerging from ‘green grabs’ for carbon and biodiversity offset projects, conservation initiatives and clean fuels, revealed a new report by the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food). 

The report titled Land Squeeze (released May 13, 2024) exposed the alarming escalation of land grabbing in various forms, opaque financial instruments and speculation, rapid resource extraction and intensive export crop production. The report stated that these ‘green grabs’, for which huge swathes of farmland were being acquired by governments and corporations, now account for 20% of large-scale land deals, despite little evidence of climate benefits.

East and north east India faced warmest April ever recorded

April recorded the warmest night temperatures in eastern and north eastern India since the records began to be kept in 1901. IMD data suggests it was also the second warmest April in the peninsula in terms of maximum, minimum and mean temperatures. The weather office experts attributed one of the main reasons for such unusually high temperatures in pockets and certain states to El Nino and climate change. April saw rather mild weather in the northwest, including capital Delhi, due to back-to-back western disturbances that kept temperatures in check. It was the ninth-warmest April overall for the country, an IMD analysis showed.

Unprecedented April heatwave destroys crucial crops in Bangladesh

An extreme heatwave in April in Bangladesh left farmers reeling under the impact. The heatwave shattered a 76-year record for the most consecutive days of scorching temperatures. The Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) confirmed the grim milestone on April 26, 2024.  With temperatures exceeding 40°C, crucial crops have wilted and yields are expected to plummet. The prolonged heatwave destroyed ripe chillies, pulses, sunflowers, almonds and paddy crops, among others, reported DTE.  Water reservoirs have dried up, leaving many people without enough water for basic needs like bathing, while obtaining drinking water has become an arduous task. The south-western part of Bangladesh has been hit hardest by this crisis.

75% of Lakshadweep corals experienced bleaching since heatwave began in October 2023

Lakshwadeep’s corals have experienced widespread bleaching since heatwaves began in the region in October 2023 in the sea. ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) said around 75% of the corals have been damaged.

State data suggested a marine heatwave event of moderate category with area of spreading 98.56% has been observed on May 3 over the Lakshadweep coast. And one of moderate to extreme category with an area of spreading 100% has been observed on May 3 over the South Tamil Nadu coast. There was bleaching in the Gulf of Mannar as well, according to CMFRI.

Kerala’s tribal regions face extreme heat 

Tribal settlements in the dense forests of Kerala are battling extreme heat, reported the ET. The Kani tribal settlement in Chenampara near Kottoor and situated in the valley of the Agasthyarkoodam Hills is considered one of the coolest spots in Thiruvananthapuram district. However, the situation is far from good in this tribal settlement nestled deep inside the forest.

The residents are unable to bear the heat and are struggling due to a water shortage. There are nearly 28 tribal settlements in the Kuttichal and Kottoor areas, and a water shortage and extreme heat are creating havoc.

An official from the India Meteorological Department said the average temperatures in comparison with the corresponding period last year saw an average deviation of above 4.5°C and an orange alert has to be issued in Palakkad. If the high temperatures recorded on Tuesday continue over the following days, there is a possibility that heatwave alerts or declarations will be issued for the districts of Alappuzha, Thrissur, and Kollam. Deaths due to sunstroke have been reported in Palakkad.

Children pulled from mud as 300 die in severe flooding in Afghanistan

Severe flash floods left more than 300 people dead in Afghanistan, CNN reported, adding that three children have been rescued from mud in the aftermath. The report said this  latest natural disaster comes after drought in Afghanistan, and is being seen as an example of a climate crisis hitting those who have least contributed to rising global temperatures. It quotes the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the country saying the floods “are a stark reminder of Afghanistan’s vulnerability to the climate crisis”. The Associated Press says: “The latest disaster came on the heels of a previous one, when at least 70 people died in April from heavy rains and flash floods in the country.” 

According to Lancet report, heat-related deaths per 100,000 people in Europe have risen by 31% between 2003-12 and 2013-2022, the Daily Telegraph reported. The 2024 Europe Report of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change said new diseases are spreading, the hayfever season is starting earlier and “risky hours for exercise have been expanding into hours beyond the hottest part of the day”.

Sea surface temperature anomalies across the northern Indian Ocean can act as an indicator for epidemics of dengue, a mosquito-borne virus that can cause serious illness and death says a new study. By looking at climate data and dengue incidence around the world over 1990-2019, researchers develop a new index based on these temperature anomalies. They find that the index captures both the seasonal patterns and the annual magnitude of dengue epidemics across 24 countries. The authors write that their new index “can potentially enhance the lead time for dengue forecasts, leading to better-planned and more impactful outbreak responses”.

Brazil extreme floods kill 55 people

Days of heavy rainfall in southern Brazil have led to “massive flooding and landslides” in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil’s southernmost state, killing at least 55 people. Over half of the 497 cities in the state have been affected by the storms, with roads and bridges destroyed in several areas. The storms also caused landslides and the collapse of a hydroelectric dam near the city of Bento Gonçalves, killing 30 people. A second dam in the area was also at risk of collapsing due to rising water levels, reported ET. 

Kenya ‘unprecedented’ floods kill over 200 people, experts attribute it to climate change 

More than 200 people have been killed and more than 150,000 have been displaced in Kenya due to extreme rainfall and consequent flooding. On April 29, a dam in Nakuru County burst due to excessive precipitation, killing at least 50 people—17 of whom were children. Across the nation, businesses and schools are still closed due to the closure of major roadways. While threats from tropical cyclone Hidaya were rising and were expected to make the matters worse, the cyclone weakened after making landfall last week. Kenya and neighbouring Tanzania managed to avoid significant damage. 

East Africa is also one of the most vulnerable regions to extreme weather events associated with climate change. Like in many other parts of the world, climate change has led to increasing frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation and flooding across Africa. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report noted that climate change is projected to increase the frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation and flooding with additional global warming in East Africa. Under a 1.5°C increase in global temperature, mean annual rainfall is projected to increase. Natural phenomena such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) affect the rainfall pattern in East Africa. Regarding ENSO, El Niño is currently weakening and approaching a neutral state, while IOD is currently neutral.

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