The Third Pole | 21 May 2019
Much of climate change research has, so far, been led by countries in the temperate zone, otherwise known as the global North. This has skewed the perception of the crisis. Most of these countries are in the temperate zone, where the effects of climate change are not as obvious, and so a majority of researchers almost automatically fall into the trap of thinking that climate change impacts are still in the future. Let us do something before the house catches fire, is their motto.
In the tropics and sub-tropics, the house is already on fire, and researchers are not the ones leading the efforts to tackle climate change effects – it is the people who find their farm yields going down or their farms being inundated by a rising sea, the communities displaced by untimely floods or storms, the people forced to migrate or to dig deeper underground for drinking water as droughts intensify, as one is doing in India right now.
In this situation, one of the most useful things researchers in the global South can do is to study what people are doing to adapt to climate change impacts, what is working and what is not.
That is why the book “Climate Change Governance and Adaptation: Case Studies from South Asia” is so important. Edited by Anamika Barua of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – Guwahati, Vishal Narain of the Management Development Institute in Gurgaon (India) and Sumit Vij at Wageningen University (Netherlands), some of the chapters are especially valuable because their authors pull no punches...
Navarun Varma of National University of Singapore and Sanjoy Hazarika of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative show what happens in a transboundary river basin such as the Brahmaputra when an upstream country takes adaptive action in the form of building a dam or a reservoir. Clearly, this action worsens the ability of downstream countries to manage the impacts of climate change. The authors argue that everybody involved in water management need a systemic understanding of the inter-linkages between river basin ecosystems; management sectors for provisioning water, energy, and food; and culture and human aspirations.