For thunderstorms, fear is so sheer in the Gurwaith village of Kashmir, that people simply rush into hiding on sighting dark clouds or stay at home, crying and praying.
Then, fear is also strange and unprecedented. Actually, lightning claimed 4 villagers on May 06 and this has been the first time that the weather turned so cruel in the region.
Such a killing instinct is attributed to climate change and such brutality is witnessed in other places across India too.
” People are scared following the (May) incident,” said Saif-u-Din Dinda, a farmer in the village in Budgam district. “Everyone … rushes home when the weather turns bad.”
Lightning charred Ms Khadija Begum’s husband, as she narrates,” used to get caught in thunderstorms while herding our sheep”.
The country’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) maintains that thunderstorms and lightning claim more lives than before and that those dwelling in rural areas and working outdoors are at risk.
In fact, among the “forces of nature” identified so far, lightning has emerged as the biggest danger to human lives, while avalanches, cyclones and landslides follow.
In 2021 alone, it pulled 7126 lives as per the records shown by National Crime Records Bureau.
Worldwide, temperatures escalate to dangerous levels and droughts become grim too and such a deadly combo makes lightning strikes more common occurrences in India, Nepal and even in the US.
As such, when the heat gets intense it fills the atmosphere with more moisture and buoys rapid updraft and these lead to charged particles.
Dear reader, lightning is common in the rainy season but its strike gets emboldened by the wide gap between the spells of torrential rains.
Mr Sunil Pawar, an eminent scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) observes a rise in the frequency of 20% to 35% across India and this is since 2019.
Mr Pawar warned, “As climate change is expected to cause more heatwaves in coming years, the lightning strikes are also expected to increase further,” Pawar said.
To give credence to this, Lightning Resilient India Campaign (LRIC) revealed that the lightning events rose to 18.50 million in the period between April 2020 to March 2021 and this translates to an increase of 31% from the preceding year.
As for the officials, they consider investment in high-end sensors to detect possible bright occurrences early and to inform the people of that area on their mobile apps, as early warning and the people plan their movements accordingly.
But seasoned experts like Sanjay Srivastava (LRIC) expect to create awareness and shield people from the white lights of otherwise blue skies.
Mr Srivastava is the convenor at LRIC which is a union of organizations and government bodies with NDMA and the Indian Meteorological Department being the prominent ones.
Mr Srivastava adds, “Our major challenge remains people who work outdoors – farmers, herders, fishermen – and children in rural schools.”
Awareness Widens And So Is The Lightning Risk:
Climate scientists alert the world about this dreaded outcome of global warming which manifests in the increasing instances of lightning strikes and it can even unfold other disasters such as forest fires.
We can learn a lot from Canada, how it prepares to check wildfire events.
In this year itself, about 3.3 million hectares of land turned into ashes with Quebec being the province suffering a lot.
In India, the story is no different. The journal “Atmospheric Chemistry And Physics” published an observation which claimed that lightning instances will grow by 25% by the turn of this century while its intensity will also soar by 50%/.
Well, friends, the end is near !!
Experts grumble about the developed countries due to which India feels the pain (human lives).
Vaisala is the firm that manufactures safety gear for weather and environment in Finland and in a report it released, it stated that India loses 2 people in a million on an average due to lightning while this number is 0.10 in US and Australia.
Rohit Chakraborty, associate with a research institute Divecha Centre for Climate Change thinks that India should look to the US which has controlled the deathly occurrences in recent decades and has taken many initiatives to check this in the form of safety campaigns, updated weather info which is always accessible and intensive research made to study the possible causes of deaths caused by lightning.
Further, he makes India accountable for its mindless actions aimed at (hollow) growth and development which act like a catalyst for extreme forms of weather.
He feels,” India and other developing countries, which are rapidly creating infrastructure and urban areas besides more transport and industries, also need to adopt clean (carbon-free) development models as they seek to grow.”
He further includes, “This will be the best solution for dealing with heat generation or climate change which is causing more natural disasters such as lightning.”
Felicitation poured in from everywhere and giggles and jubilations all around as we can now utilize solar power to transform the plastic waste and carbon dioxide trapped in air into the clean fuel.
Clearly not less than any milestone especially when the voice for green energy and to put fossil fuel to rest climbs high.
Kudos to the researchers who are the bright brains behind the project.
These scientists work at the University of Cambridge and have designed a reactor which would run on solar energy and which would turn CO2 which heats the earth otherwise into syngas and which is the major constituent in the liquid fuel which are sustainable.
Gradually, we can promote this for industrial use later.
Speaking on behalf of Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry, Prof Erwin Reisner says that this framework will help us to ignore fossil fuels completely as we now have other functional energy sources.
We’re not just interested in decarbonisation, but de-fossilisation
“and need to completely eliminate fossil fuels in order to create a truly circular economy,”
“In the medium term, this technology could help reduce carbon emissions by capturing them from industry and turning them into something useful, but ultimately, we need to cut fossil fuels out of the equation entirely and capture CO2 from the air.”
Prevalent carbon storage and capture system which procures CO2 from the air and keeps it underground.
But in the new system, captured gas is used.
CCS is a technology that’s popular with the fossil fuel industry as a way to reduce carbon emissions while continuing oil and gas exploration,” justifies Prof Reisner.
“But if instead of carbon capture and storage, we had carbon capture and utilisation, we could make something useful from CO2 instead of burying it underground, with unknown long-term consequences, and eliminate the use of fossil fuels.”
Actually, the research crew draws inspiration from photosynthesis, the process used by plants to make their food from the sunlight.
The carbon capture mechanism is not new but it is hard to segregate CO2 from many of the molecules that are present in the atmosphere where we breathe.
No doubt, the researchers have invented a novelty here.
By passing air through an alkaline structure, they hold the CO2 up as other gases (nitrogen and oxygen) make their way out.
As they concentrate the CO2, they check on chemical reactions to remodel it into syngas.
“Instead of storing CO2 underground, like in CCS, we can capture it from the air and make clean fuel from it,” says Dr Motiar Rahaman from the university’s Department of Chemistry.“This way, we can cut out the fossil fuel industry from the process of fuel production, which can hopefully help us avoid climate destruction.”
Now let’s see dear reader, when all this would arrive and implement in India and how authorities will support its widespread adoption and subsequent adaption.