Climate Study Sounds Red Alert For City

Mumbai: 31 Oct, 209 (Times of India)

The latest estimates by US-based Climate Central suggesting a far greater impact on Mumbai due to sea level rise raises questions about the gaps in planning for such an eventuality. “Climate change is not being factored in when decisions are made,” said Debi Goenka of Conservation Action Trust. “Projects like the coastal road, Shivaji statue are at great risk, perhaps even the underground Metro, but we are not asking questions about which projects we should be building.”

Although the study does not show that Mumbai will be totally submerged by 2050, as some media have mistakenly reported, Goenka notes that frequent flooding of the entire city will cause enormous damage. “What we see now in some parts and occasionally, we will see everywhere: sewer water backed up, infrastructure damaged,” he said. “For all practical purposes, the city will be unlivable,” he added.

The study is a global one which limits the level of detail available for local areas. However, an interactive map that comes with the new research helps bring out the kind of impact cities around the world might see under different climate change scenarios.

These projections hold for a scenario in which only moderate cuts are made to carbon emissions. If carbon emissions do not fall, temperatures could rise more rapidly, and with them sea levels. However, under every scenario, Mumbai, along with Kolkata, would be among the most affected globally, according to the map.

Some experts questioned the findings. Pushpendra Johari of RMSI, a global natural hazard consultancy, said the numbers seemed on the high side for India and Mumbai. Other studies, which take into account the limitations of the old land elevation datasets, do not show such high risk, he said. Others also noted that the study does not take into account regional factors. There are other limitations—protective infrastructure is not taken into account in calculating exposure and impact, for instance, which the study acknowledges.