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World Meteorological Day, water, and climate change

Image description: Vector - World Meterological Day
Image credit: Chandni Sharma / 123rf

“World Meteorological Day,” the World Health Organization (WHO) explains, “takes place every year on 23 March and commemorates the coming into force on 23 March 1950 of the Convention establishing the World Meteorological Organization. It showcases the essential contribution of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services to the safety and wellbeing of society.” 

World Meteorological Day 2020 carries the theme of “count every drop; every drop matters.” This theme is especially salient at a time when the future of water availability is in doubt, against a backdrop of the Earth’s increasing inclement weather patterns in the age of climate change. 

“Fresh water is vital for life,” writes the World Meteorological Organization of the occasion of World Meteorological Day 2020. “On average, a human being cannot survive more than three days without it. Water is essential for the production of our food, virtually all of our goods and services and for the environment. 

“The world now faces increasing challenges posed by water stress, floods and droughts and lack of access to clean supplies. There is an urgent need to improve forecasting, monitoring and management of water supplies and to tackle the problem of too much, too little or too polluted water.”

India is no stranger to this phenomenon. Indeed, World Water Day was observed yesterday. Health Issues India commented on the present and emerging trends of water availability and what they portend for the country. “India is home to around eighteen percent of the global population — with numbers set to increase in the coming years,” we noted. “Despite such a vast population, India only has access to around four percent of global freshwater resources. Meanwhile, India’s per capita water availability is on the decline, presenting the very real possibility of a water crisis in the near future.” 

UNESCO warned in 2018 of severe water shortages by 2050 in India. As groundwater reserves deplete and India’s climate becomes increasingly unstable, this does not seem an implausible prospect. The World Meteorological Organization lays out in clear terms the impact of climate change on water resources: “water-related hazards like drought and flooding are thus becoming more serious, and a much greater proportion of annual precipitation is now falling in extreme precipitation events rather than spread more evenly throughout the year.”

India is witnessing both trends, having witnessed in the past year extreme flooding events as well as severe drought. Both carry catastrophic implications, fuelling mass displacement, water shortages, and an uptick in water-borne diseases such as cholera and acute diarrhoeal diseases. 

The themes of World Meteorological Day 2020 underscores that it is imperative to address what climate change entails for the country’s water supplies and its weather patterns. The effects of the age of climate change manifest here and now, not in the distant future. Without concerted efforts, we are reminded, the situation will only worsen and become more difficult to manage. 

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