Cornwall Alliance / Nov. 21, 2019

Indian Farmers Rejoice as Best Monsoon in 25 Years Vanquishes Climate Fears

In India, monsoon is synonymous with joy. That's probably because the majority of India's 1.3 billion people directly or indirectly depend on agriculture, the success of which depends largely upon the rains of the annual monsoon season.

By Vijay Jayaraj

In India, monsoon is synonymous with joy. That’s probably because the majority of India’s 1.3 billion people directly or indirectly depend on agriculture, the success of which depends largely upon the rains of the annual monsoon season.

Climate alarmists have long argued that India would suffer from global warming because of its negative impact on the monsoons. But reports of doom and gloom are nowhere to be seen this year.

The people of India have special cause to rejoice this year. The 2019 Indian summer monsoon was the best in 25 years.

September witnessed the highest rainfall in the 102-year record and was 153% of the Long Period Average (LPA, average rainfall received during the south-west monsoon over a 50-year period).

The central, western, and southern parts of India received above-normal rainfall, causing large-scale floods and filling up most of the country’s reservoirs — important for providing water to the vast agrarian landscape and acting as lifelines for many important cities where groundwater levels are low.

Local farmers are greatly encouraged by the estimate of the types and amounts of crops they can expect to plant and harvest in the coming months.

Cotton producers and the textile industry expect a banner year. Cotton production is likely to reach 36.5 million bales (over 6.8 million tons) this crop year, 15% higher than the year just ended. This is especially good news for my childhood homes — Bombay (now Mumbai) and Coimbatore, respectively nicknamed “The Manchester of India” and “The Manchester of South India” for their cotton production and textile mills.

The Indian monsoons have been largely unaffected by the meager increase in global average temperature (GAT). They have also been healthy. Studies show that there has been a “revival of summer monsoon” in the north and central parts of India during recent decades.

This monsoon health — coupled with increased use of agricultural technology — has translated into record-high crop output in three consecutive years (2016, 2017, 2018). Even the El Niño-driven dry phase in 2016 failed to disrupt agricultural output significantly in following years.

To be sure, the Indian monsoon remains generally unpredictable, as evidenced in the historical record (1871–2017). If anything, the monsoon displays epochal trends over multiple decades, and these trends don’t seem to be cyclic.

Image: All-India Summer Monsoon (June-September) Rainfall (AISMR) Anomalies during 1871-2017.
Image Source: Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Government of India. https://www.tropmet.res.in/~kolli/mol/Monsoon/Historical/air.html

So, although short-term trends can be captured and quantified, forecasts remain difficult. What does seem clear, however, is that climate alarmists’ fears about monsoon failure rest on poorly informed science.

The reality is that India has great reason for joy after this year’s monsoon. And it is not just the farmers! A favorable monsoon season is also expected to directly benefit the overall economy.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI), India’s central bank, has announced that the best monsoon in 25 years will have positive impact on the economy.

“Comfortable reservoir levels augur well for rabi sowing and foodgrains stocks above the buffer norms provide a cushion against potential inflationary pressures,” read its latest Monetary Policy report.

The report also stated, “The prospects of agriculture have brightened considerably, positioning it favourable for regenerating employment and income, and the revival of domestic demand.”

For many of us here in India, the fears about climate change portrayed in the media have no practical relevance. Our monsoon has hardly shown any signs of climate fatigue, and our agricultural outputs are skyrocketing like never before.

Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), is a Research Contributor for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.

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