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Socioeconomic backwardness increases vulnerability to climate change: evidence from Uttar Pradesh

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A. Tripathi
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The global average surface temperature over the past 50 years has increased at nearly double the rate of the past 100 years. Although warming is greatest at the higher northern latitudes, it has been widespread worldwide over the past 30 years. The precipitation pattern has also changed spatially; significantly increased precipitation has been observed in the eastern parts of North and South America, northern Europe, and northern and central Asia. Drying has been observed in the Sahel, the Mediterranean, southern Africa, and parts of southern Asia. Heavy precipitation events (above the 95th percentile) have increased in many land regions since about 1950, even where the total precipitation amount has dropped. Increases have also been reported for rarer precipitation events (1in 50 year return period) in a few regions. The increasing concentration of anthropogenic gases in the atmosphere is mainly responsible for these rapid changes in the climate

This study assesses the vulnerability to climate change of farmers in Uttar Pradesh (UP), a state in India. The study chose UP for its importance in India's food and nutrition security programme and its high sensitivity to climate change. It uses 17 environmental and socioeconomic factors to see which districts of UP are the most vulnerable to climate change, and attempts to identify the factors on a set of explanatory variables.

The study concludes that in terms of infrastructure and economically developed districts are less vulnerable to climate change; in other words, vulnerability to climate change and variability is linked with social and economic development. This observation is corroborated by the findings of relational analysis which shows that livestock, forestry, consumption of fertiliser, per capita income, and infant mortality rate are observed to be important correlates of farmers' vulnerability to climate change and should be focussed on to reduce farmers' climate change vulnerability. Also, farmers' awareness and adaptive capacity to climate change needs to be strengthened, for which policy options such as crop insurance and early warning systems would help.