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An exclusive cover story for April 2013 issue of Goa Today

How Climate Change would impact Goa
and!umar "# $amat
%and and landscape of Goa is creation of geological and meteorological forces# &ou get that
feeling when you stand at 'ana(i)s Altinho* on Chim+el hilloc! facing 'ana(i* "argao)s monte
hilloc!* ,emedias hill of Cansaulim* near lighthouse cliff at Aguada* on the sacred summits of
-iddanath* Chandranath and $asainath hills or when you loo! at the marine fossil +eds at
-ancoale or -iridao# Goa is a happy accident of nature# ature would ta!e +ac! from Goa what
it had created in the past# .nly hilly areas and plateaus would escape the nature)s fury# /o not
+uy property in any area of Goa which is (ust 1 to 10 m a+ove mean sea level# /o not +uy
property in Goa in areas with geological faults and wea! roc!y strata and soil# /o not +uy
property in Goa where thunder+olts would stri!e with higher fre1uency due to peculiar local
conditions# /o not +uy property in areas su+(ect to cloud+ursts2short spells of intense rains#
Climate change research points to possi+ility that all the properties in low lying areas would have
3ero value in coming decades# That would include Caran3alem* "iramar* Campal +elt and the
ri++on development in 4arde3 and -alcete# 5n Goa where our ancestors too! precautions to +uild
6 meters tall external $ha3an em+an!ments the local architects and engineers have failed to
factor in the impacts of climate change# The 7/C 'ato pla3a in 'ana(i would turn into a muddy
swimming pool in a few years# The present model of Glo+al -ea %evel ,ise 8G-%,9 predicts that
a+out five percent of land of state of Goa* 1:000 hectares* would +e claimed +y the advancing
sea# Actually when the rising waves stri!e the damage would +e worse# There is little hope for
estuarine islands in "andvoi and all the low lying $ha3an lands# .nly the hilloc!s of /ivar*
Chorao and -anto 7stevam would rise a+ove the waters# There is no way such irreversi+le
su+mergence can +e stopped# The landscape of Goa at present offers two pictures2the
su+mergent landmass and the emergent landmass# The entire -alcete coastline is example of
emergent landmass# "arine fossils found at Tuem* Camurlim* Chi!halim* Agacaim* Cortalim*
-ancoale* near "apusa river* -iridao* 4hati* 4am+olim reveal a violent marine past# The
landscape of Goa after a century would reduce the area under emergent landmass# ;nless
systematically shifted to higher grounds in ecologically secure locations* the dense population in
-alcete * +etween west +an! of river -al and Ara+ian sea would +e wiped out to due to G-%,#
Calculations of present land use shows that only <3000 hectares of land in Goa is left for any sort
of legal * permissi+le development# =or thousands of years to come the development would have
to +e restricted to such a ridiculously small parcel of land unless we sacrifice all the agricultural
lands# >hile many middle class and poor Goans can)t afford to +uy a small piece of land and
property in their own motherland* their wealthy !iths and !ins are selling old ancestral houses*
land* property* whole hilloc!s* +eachside scenic properties* farmlands* anti1ues and furniture to
people outside Goa and 5ndia# 5ndirectly these senseless Goans are promoting demographic
engineering# The irony is that those Goans who fled to escape conversion to Christianity and
later returned to live a peaceful life* li!e my forefathers have +ecome refugees in their own land#
Their own communidades are not willing to honora+ly resettle them# 5 am a landless Goan driven
out of my ancestral avelim communidade in /ivar island# There are thousands li!e me# 5nternal
refugees li!e me need to +e first given special status and offered land for permanent settlement#
There is 3ero awareness in Goa on coming tsunami of climate change# -ome seminars*
wor!shops are held ritualistically +ut where are the worst case scenarios* the policy papers* the
mitigation plans* the reha+ilitation plans?# Climate research from 5. and Goa ;niversity is
+uried deep in expensive research papers and inaccessi+le restricted reports# -cientists pu+lish
only to advance their careers and not for pu+lic good# 4esides there is a total veil of secrecy on
ongoing research* so much so that even if climate researchers +ecome aware of dangers to state
of Goa they would not raise an alert# They would patiently wait for the peer review and when it
is done the damage* the harm would have +een already caused# 5ndian oceanographers and
seismologists were sleeping when Asian megatsunami too! place# -ome of them assured as if
they can read the pulse of planet that there is no harm of tsunami from the Ara+ian sea# And if a
tsunami from the Ara+ian sea stri!es Goa the only consolation would +e revision of their
models# -cientists seem to discard the precautionary principle# This happened after %atur
earth1ua!e# 7very 5ndian geophysicist and seismologist true to his salt made the pu+lic +elieve
that the +asaltic /eccan plateau is immune to +ig earth1ua!es# 4ut %atur (olts stripped them of
their intellectual arrogance# The meteorite stri!e in ,ussia recently showed the ill preparedness
of glo+al scientific community to anticipate and deal with such catastrophic hits# 5n 5taly the
seismologists were sent to (ail for misleading predictions#
>hy there is no demand for Goa)s special ecological status on account of vulnera+ility to
climate change?# The demand for special economic status for Goa is a diversionary political
demand proving the failure of democracy in Goa to exploit the full legislative* administrative
powers of statehood status# The union territory status was an economically highly su+sidi3ed
status given to Goa* /aman and /iu after li+eration# Central government was also li+eral enough
to permit continuation of many 'ortuguese legislations li!e the uni1ue civil code# Goans gave up
union territorial status and craved and clamoured for statehood# ow* 26 years later they have
reali3ed that they have created a +eautiful mess out of statehood# -o instead of accepting the
+lame they have raised the vague demand of @ -pecial status) without +eing clear a+out it# 5
suspect that the +asic demand is not so much a+out A-pecial status) +ut a status li!e Bammu and
$ashmir or perhaps an autonomous status li!e Hong $ong and "acao# -pecial status is a
+eautiful mirage to +e chased till a critical demographic transition occurs in Goa C a transition
which would ma!e non Goan migrants ma(ority# The /A government re(ected demand to
change the Gadgil "u!her(ee formula unfavoura+le to Goa# The ;'A government also refused
the demand# 5f Goa really needs special status then it should +e Aspecial ecological status 8-7-9
)# 4ecause as compared to any other coastal state in 5ndia* Goa is most vulnera+le to impact of
glo+al warming* climate change and sea level rise# And what government of 5ndia* ".7=* the
planning commission have done a+out these concerns ? 2 practically nothing# The Goa team
which ma!es presentations to the planning commission has also neglected this issue#
As compared to any other state in 5ndia* the smallest one in area and population* our state of Goa
represents a very complex geological and ecological history# Goa is virtually a miracle of nature#
7arth)s ancient history survives in Goa# The former head of department of earth sciences* Goa
;niversity* 'rof# A# G# /essai has provided a glimpse into the geological history of Goa#
According to him 2the Goa Group typically has a greenstone dominated se1uence at the +ase
which is overlain +y a metaconglomerate over which rests a dominantly clastic se1uence# The
metaconglomerate 8tilloid9 was assigned the status of a para2conglomerate# The granitic gneisses
in Goa are exposed at four different localities and are referred to as 8i9 Chandranath granite
gneiss* 8ii9 Tamdi felspathic gneiss* 8iii9 /udhsagar granite* and 8iv9 Canacona granite# They are
all considered as intrusives into the supracrustals 8greenstones9# -ome of planet)s oldest roc!s
and oldest microfossils survive in Goa# Anmode Ghat Trondh(emite Gneiss is exposed at
Anmode 8Tamdi felspathic gneiss of Go!ul et al# 1D:09 along the 'ana(i24elgaum ational
Highway 8H <A9 and is amongst the oldest gneisses from 5ndia that has yielded an ,+E-r
whole2roc! age of 3<00F1<0 "illion years 8/houndial et al# 1D:G9# The 5ndian plate drifted
northward for 100 million years +efore it had a soft collision with the 7urasian plate during
middle 7ocene* a+out 00 million years ago# /uring the course of continued northward drift*
around 6D260 "ya 8%ate cretaceous9* widespread volcanism too! place over the 5ndian landmass
and created the deccan trap continental flood +asalt province# 5t is interesting that the flood +asalt
did not cover Goa# 5f that were to happen then perhaps the history of Goa would have ta!en a
different turn# Go!ul 81D:09 has o+served that during upper cretaceous2%ower 7ocene period the
area to the south of the present position of deccan trap in Goa should have +een a prominent
topographic high which restricted the spread of trap flows to the south# This small reniform state
has seen the Hadean eon2 when life arose on 7arth# The Archean roc!s 8 3:00 to 2000 million
years9 correspond to the era of first eu!aryotes# 5t was a very cold climate and atmosphere was
getting richer in oxygen# 5 identified stromatolite deposits in upper reaches of "hadei river
indicating presence of a paleoreef where the river exists today# Goa witnessed protero3oic eon
which produced first s!eletoni3ed animals# 7arth was passing through several episodes of
free3ing# Huge num+er of species got eradicated !nown as mass extinction of 7diacarans# Then
followed the 'aleo3oic era which +egan around 0<3 million years ago and lasted till 200 million
years ago# This era produced 'ermian* Car+oniferous* /evonian* -ilurian* .rdovician* Cam+rian
periods# Three mass extinctions of species too! place during this era# Goa was coloni3ed +y land
plants# -ome of the plant megafossils in "hadei +asin may +elong to this period# 5t was a ma(or
ice age# The "eso3oic era saw cretaceous* Burassic and Triassic periods and the +irth and death
of /inosaurs# /inosaurs stopped migrating into south 5ndia a+out 160 million years ago# Their
fossils have +een found in "aharashtra and Tamil adu# Careful research may reveal their
presence in Goa# -ome tri+al children are reported to +e playing with fossili3ed dinosaur eggs#
The volcanism must have !illed them# The fossils of ,hinoceres decanensis in Ghatpra+ha valley
on +order of Goa indicates the ancient megafauna which is now extinct# A+out 60 million years
ago the present Ceno3oic era +egan# 5t was the age of mammals# 5n the "iocene period* a+out 20
to : million years ago* Goa)s climate was tropical e1uatorial# A+out two million years ago it
changed to strongly monsoonic# 5t was 'liocene period# Huge floods could have ta!en place
during this period# A relatively dry seasonal climate followed in lower 'leistocene a+out two
million years ago# 5t ended seven la!h years ago# That was the real +eginning of a monsoonic
seasonal climate# -o we can conclude that the monsoon really +egan in middle 'leistocene#
-trong monsoon climate was witnessed in early to late 'leistocene period# The geomorphic data
is present in reddish soils# This was the age of hunter food gatherers# Humans entered Goa for
the first time# The late 'leistocene had a wea! to moderate monsoon climate# 5t saw +irth of
sta+le sand dunes# The humans in Goa marched towards the coast# The terminal 'leistocene saw
distinctly wea! monsoons# This was a+out 10220 thousand years ago# Then Goa came out of the
ice age# The early Holocene 8 10 to < thousand years ago9 saw strong monsoons# The evidence
for such a climate is found in freshwater la!es* entrenched streams and sta+le dunes# This was
also period of +eginning of agriculture# A+out <000 years ago monsoons +ecame moderate# This
phase has lasted till today# 4ut human interference has stamped its) impact on glo+al weather and
it also impacts Goa)s weather# The meteorological records of Goa are availa+le for a+out 110
years and fairly good records are availa+le for past 60 years# >hat these records indicate is the
rising degree of uncertainty a+out weather pattern# At the end of the monsoon everyone loo!s at
the total rainfall# 4ut hidden in this figure is the story of climate change2the erratic distri+ution of
the rainfall# The daily maximum temperatures are on rise for all summer months clearly proving
the local impact of glo+al climate change# -ome of the warmest days were experienced in
=e+ruary 2013 and it is difficult to predict whether this year the mercury would touch and cross
<0 deg# Celcius#
o+ody writes on climate change and history of our changing planet li!e 'eter >ard* 'rofessor
of +iology and 7arth and space sciences at the ;niversity of >ashington# 5 purchased his ma(or
availa+le titles from =lip!art online +oo!shop and their reading offered me a clear perspective of
the past* present and future of 7arth)s climate# 5n @ The "edea hypothesis) he propses that life is
at its) worst enemy# 5n another +oo! A The flooded earth2 our future in a world without ice caps)
he paints the scenarios in 200* 2100* 2300 and +eyond# 7ven if we stop all green house gas
emissions to control glo+al warming he says that the seas would rise +y a catastrophic three
metres +y 2100# He predicts that cities li!e "iami* Henice* Amsterdam would have to +e
a+andoned# 'rofessor >ard)s +oo!s would sha!e the politicians and pu+lic in Goa# 5ndians are
!nown to wa!e up late to face any natural catastrophe# The @sosegado) Goans would also wa!e
up very late* may +e past A#/# 2000260 to grasp their ecological destiny#
Three years ago* 5 persuaded my +oard of studies in the su+(ect of 4otany at Goa ;niversity to
change the old fashioned plant ecology sylla+us and accept the new credit course in Advanced
7cology in which 5 introduced a complete module on 7cology of Climate change# >hile
teaching this paper we could also do a little +it of field experimentation# >e tried sampling pure
rainwater under sterile conditions and unexpectedly found presence of several microorganisms in
it Ceu+acterial cells* cynao+acteria* microalgae* fungal spores and filaments raising serious
1uestions a+out the role of these tiny creatures in monsoon clouds and climate change#
Correspondence with 4rent C# Christner* /epartment of 4iological -ciences* %ouisiana -tate
;niversity encouraged us to develop the new area of A"icro+iology of CloudsI further# ow 5
plan to collect rainwater samples from many locations in Goa during 2013 monsoon and identify
the micro+iological dimension# 5t is li!ely to provide some +ioindicators of climate change#
7arlier 5 had heard Goa)s own climate researcher Boa1uim Goes* %amont research professor*
%amont2/oherty 7arth .+servatory* Colum+ia ;niversity spea!ing on +lowing of dust from
5ranian desert towards 5ndia* rising temperature of 5ndian ocean and Ara+ian sea* plan!tonic and
algal +looms depleting dissolved .xygen in sea* acidification of the Ara+ian sea and conse1uent
impact on Ara+ian sea fisheries# 'rofessor Goes had painted a very gloomy picture of climate
change in 5ndia and around the 5ndian ocean +asin and he would +e an indispensa+le intellectual
asset to government of 5ndia and Goa in planning any machinery* mechanism and infrastructure
for coping with climate change#
>e don)t need roc!et science and expensive instruments to see the local impacts of climate
change# 5t is happening right in our +ac!yard# Trees flowering early* +irds +reeding early*
mushrooms sprouting at unusual time* insects proliferating in off seasons* termites mounting
voracious attac!s on household furniture* a +eautiful rain+ow in middle of warm =e+ruary*
sudden development of mini tornadoes or dust devils lifting gar+age s!y high* increasing
num+er of lightning +olts stri!ing the ground* erratic rains* long dry spells in monsoon followed
+y intense showers* high intensity rains in -eptem+er* a cloud+urst dropping half a meter of rain
and causing unprecedented floods in Canacona* sudden intrusion +y sea in Canacona and
'ernem damaging the canoes* continuous coastal erosion* satellites reporting Goa)s atmosphere
covered in @smo!e) * sudden spurt in respiratory illnesses* allergies* s!in diseases* viral diseases*
water reservoirs rapidly going dry2 all these are indicators of climate change and driversE forces
which cause it# The nature spea!s in complex language# The local impact of glo+al climate
change is discerni+le in Goa# 5n addition to climate change there is also impact of four ma(or
environmental drivers2 mining 8post 1D<09* ur+ani3ation 8post21D619* 5ndustriali3ation 8post2
1DG19 and tourism 8post2 1DG29 which have strongly impacted Goa#
7xposure of green hillsides* heavy concreti3ation of the surface has changed the local heat
+udget# The ancient heat sin!s2 green +elts* natural orchards* small and large la!es* ponds* tan!s
have vanished# 7arlier microclimate in villages used to get controlled +y landscape mosaic
nursed +y the communidades# There were wind+rea!s in coastal areas and on plateaus
comprising thic!* tall dense coconut groves or +am+oos# This was followed +y rows of useful
trees2mango* (ac!fruit* tamarind* ficus# .ld drainage systems were integrated in natural contours
and followed the hydrological setting# -o* small impacts of climate change were cushioned# This
age old traditional capacitance of <00 Goan villages was compromised +y the (uggernaut of
ur+ani3ation# -o the already torn ecological fa+ric of Goa is now expected to face the fearful
onslaught of climate change#
There is no capacitance to survive massive cloud+urst or a ma(or cyclone# There is no
capacitance to withstand a prolonged heat wave# There is only supply side management which
encourages people to waste pota+le water# /espite good intentions of the government Goa faces
acute water scarcity# The surface water resources availa+ility is purely notional# 5t is computed as
a function of average rainfall# 4ut what if rains fail for two or more years?# The government
would have to factor in such worst case scenarios and +egin planning for desalination plants in
coastal areas# 5t would +e now much cheaper to run these plants on natural gas# The ill
preparedness of Goa in health sector is also a ma(or pro+lem +ecause >H. is concerned a+out
emergence of new human pathogens due to rising temperatures and climate change# Climate
change would heavily favour insect population in Goa# Arthropod +orne fevers would hold a
threat# ew strains of viruses would play havoc# -!in cancers would increase# Heat stro!es
would !ill vulnera+le people# Children +etween 0 to 0 years of age are very vulnera+le to climate
change# They would need a special protective program# Climate change demands switch over to
special crops* special diets* special life styles* adaptive nutrition# The school calendars may have
to +e reorgani3ed to avoid periods of uncomforta+le weather# The government of 5ndia has no
specific mitigation plan for the extremely vulnera+le state of Goa# .ne full day needs to +e
reserved +y the legislative assem+ly of Goa only to discuss the emerging threat due to climate
change# 5t is no more a purely academic matter# The chairman of 5'CC* /r# ,#$# 'achauri has
spo!en at least three times in Goa in past one year on climate change# -cientists and
academicians wor!ing on climate change need to +e more open* more proactive# 5n the coming
years politicians and people of Goa would prove "ar! Twain correct# The famous American
writer had once reportedly 1uipped2 A 7very+ody tal!s a+out weather +ut no+ody does anything
a+out itI# Goa and Goans would continue to tal! a+out changing weather* +ut who would do
anything a+out it?# How and >hen?# Any guess?#