Climate Change Crisis in Kolkata, India: A Conversation with Lisha Samuel

By Michelle Smith

Your city may be underwater by 2050

Lisha Samuel, a graduate student in the Communication department, spoke during the climate change teach-in on October 30th about migration due to severe weather conditions. Lisha poses the question of how we can teach climate change on a global scale so that people will start to take this phenomenon seriously.  

I was able to chat with Lisha about her efforts to promote climate change awareness because the damages of global warming are increasing at high rates, especially sea levels and temperatures. 

Kolkata, India is the focus of Lisha’s presentation. Kolkata is experiencing higher than normal temperatures, creating a multitude of issues like torrential downpours and extreme heatwaves. The dangers are a direct result of climate change, Lisha charges. Lisha’s main concern is the sea-level’s rising and flooding that is occurring in Kolkata. 

Sea Levels rising have grave impacts on life as we know it. This phenomenon is happening because temperatures all over the world are increasing. Higher sea levels cause destructive and/or deadly storms and flooding (NOAA, 2020, para 2). 

11 major cities in Asia are highly at risk of sea levels rising. Kolkata is a coastal region that is the fourth most vulnerable city to sea-level rise in India. Kolkata is the third least prepared city to adapt to climate change and the implications are unpreparedness for climate damage and migration of people fleeing from natural disasters in their cities.

Lisha frames the issue of climate change and the people who are displaced and need to migrate away from their homes because of the weather conditions. The problem is two-fold, according to Lisha. Climate refugees are not protected by international law and India will see many migrants due to the need for resettlement when places like Kolkata become unlivable. There is also not enough information being shared in India about climate change efforts. 

Amali Tower, Founder, and Director of Climate Refugees expresses a major concern at the moment, “This isn’t something that will happen, this is something happening now.” The need for strong international laws and protections for people who have been displaced due to climate change need to be considered now. The need to adapt to new and unexpected circumstances like displacement is a must. 

Lisha suggests enhancing news media coverage on climate change because increased exposure to such topics creates public concern. The more people are concerned about climate change and know about their actions in global warming, the better the chance we can at least slow down the process. 

The devastating and consistent climate change in Kolkata is just one example of what climate change looks like. This is a global problem, and the Earth is heating up fast. The coastal regions are expected to receive the most damage and that includes the United States.

In 2019, the Washington Post used New Jersey as an example of how America has been hit by global warming. The writers state that New Jersey is one of the fastest heating states in the country (para 5). Some staples of New Jersey, like the ice industry, have long lost their audience due to climate change. Lakes and rivers have been affected by elevated sea levels, affecting ice fisher’s businesses and pests of all kinds are staying longer due to the warmer temperatures in the wintertime. 

Global warming is real and it is happening fast. Efforts to make changes are not large enough to stop the damages. People need to be educated about climate change. Some damage may be irreversible but severe weather has an impact on our daily lives and we need to start taking action to preserve what we have left. If not, the repercussions will be increasingly dangerous conditions everywhere in the world. 

Nature does not discriminate and without enough attention to climate change advocates, we will all be victims of the implications.

References:

Mufson, S, Mooney, C, Eilperin, J, & Muyskens, J (2019)

2°C: BEYOND THE LIMIT: Extreme climate change has arrived in America

Retrieved from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/national/climate-environment/climate-change-america/

NOAA (2020)

            Is sea level rising? Retrieved from: https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/sealevel.html

Samuel, L (2020).

Climate Change Communication in Kolkata: Promoting Strategic Communication to Address Forced Migration from Sea-level Rise.

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