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Understanding and Responding to Global Climate Change in Fragile Resource Zones

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Jodha, Narpat S.
Date: 1991
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/4264
Sector: Global Commons
Subject(s): global commons
climate change
global warming
Abstract: "Global climate change, judging from the debate on the subject, is one of the major concerns of the world today. However, the concern of those closely following the debate is that it has created more panic than concrete strategies to abate and adapt to the global change. The situation seems to present a crisis where the uncertainties of predicted global change scenarios combine with the risk averse nature of decision makers to obstruct concrete action and encourage the 'wait and see' approach. However, the cumulative nature of warming may not permit the luxury of 'wait and see.' "Hence, there is a need for action, despite the uncertainties of predicted changes; but action requires concrete contexts to facilitate anticipatory measures by the decision makers. In order to resolve the problem, one should look for certainty components in the complex of uncertainties that characterize the whole problem. This paper argues that such certainty components can be projected by altering the current skewed perspectives on the problem. Taking the lead from recent conceptual work on 'cumulative change,' as against 'systemic change,' to properly understand global environmental change, the paper presents an approach to identify and use the 'certainty components.' The paper illustrates this approach with reference to the semi-arid tropical region of India and, to a limited extent, the Himalayan mountain region. "Based on work on sustainable agriculture in fragile resource zones in South Asia, the paper identifies concrete current problems and their possible solutions. The current problems and their remedial measures are linked to the impacts of future climate change in the regional context. Because of such linkages, measures to solve current problems will have the potential to facilitate adaptation to future climatic impacts, without exclusively planning for 'uncertain' impacts. Though not a substitute for direct action against global warming, this approach can help insofar as the problem is accentuated by cumulative types of changes such as deforestation and desertification. Its strong point is that it helps to integrate the concerns of current problems with those of the future impacts of global warming, and advocates dual purpose strategies to treat the two without being unduly obstructed by the uncertainties of global change-scenarios."

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