Growing concern over the potential impact of global warming has spurred international action with a team led by a US professor developing an environmental observation system for India.
Robert Twilley, associate vice chancellor of research and economic development at Louisiana State University, recently joined an international science team tasked with helping India, one of the countries facing the most dramatic consequences of world climate change.
The team led by Twilley, director of the Coastal Systems and Society Initiative and professor of coastal sciences, is developing an environmental observation system for India to help reduce risks and provide clear policies to guide the many coastal regions of the continent.
Such an observation system could deliver the necessary scientific foundation for the development of long-term government policies that would help India meet its obligations under international accords such as the Kyoto Protocol, a UN agreement calling for the voluntary reduction of greenhouse gases and emissions by all member countries.
"National observation systems are critical to provide the best scientific understanding of a changing earth system for prudent policy decisions that influence our health, our security and our sustainable economies," said Twilley. "This is true in developed countries such as the US, and it's true of developing countries such as India."
India has one of the most populated coastal communities in the world with approximately 500 people per mile of coastline, compared to the US, which has approximately 30 people per mile. The country has historically experienced severe coastal threats, such as tsunamis, monsoons and cyclones in these areas of high population density. Such events are predicted to increase in number and severity if the global climate situation remains unchanged.
The recent unprecedented growth of the Indian economy and population is expected to increase the country's greenhouse gas emissions and impact its natural resources unless drastic steps are taken, he said.
The potential repercussions of climate change on regional and global economies, public health, available water supplies and ecosystem services could be devastating. This is particularly true for developing countries, which tend to be ill-equipped for such changes, Twilley said.