Natural Resources, 2011, 2, 22-27
doi:10.4236/nr.2011.21004 Published Online March 2011 (
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. NR
Macro to Micro Viewpoint of Climate
Change—Linking Karnataka to Global Issue
Sunil Nautiyal
Centre for Ecological Economics and Natural Resources, Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore, India.
Received December 23rd, 2010; revised January 25th, 2011; accepted February 1st, 2011.
A numerous studies have been done on climate change at regional, national and global levels. Several climate models
have predicted the global scenarios for climate in different parts of the world. However, the significance and practical
implementation of such models at local level yet to be validated. This is because those national or global models do not
consider micro variables such as such as environmental resources for exa mple ‘land availability, local climatic condi-
tions, socioeconomic factors such as ‘labour and capital’, policy aspects such as ‘subsidies, nature conservation strate-
gies’ and competition for labor and capital in relation of ‘national economy’. India, with a huge diversity in land, to-
pography, climate and socioeconomic conditions, divided into 15 agro-ecological zones. Further, to help develop loca-
tion specific research and development strategies at the micro level, a total of 127 sub-zon es (agro-climatic sub regions)
have been identified in India. Therefore, research on climate change and its impact only at the regional or national
level may not be a sound approach to provide solutions for adaptation to climate change at micro level. Thus the mi-
cro-level research needs to be undertaken that might help us understand climate change impacts on the landscape i.e.
biodiversity, health, natural resource management, land use and land cover development, adaptation and the develop-
ment of socio-ecological systems. The concepts presented in this article should provide the basis for a discussion on
decision-making issues among multidisciplinary experts with regard to climate change and sustainable development
within complex environments.
Keywords: Climate Change, Adaptation and Mitigation, Local Level Case Studies, Agro-Climatic Zones, India
1. Introduction
Observational evidences indicate that high carbon emis-
sions and the associated climate change effects in the 20th
century, already have affected diverse sets of physical
and biological systems [1]. Carbon dioxide in the at-
mosphere has increased by about 30% from a pre-
industrial leve l of about 270 ppm to the level of 380 ppm
and is expected to further reach 600 - 700 ppm range by
2100 [1-2]. Developed nations representing about 20%
of the world population, are responsible for 76% of total
carbon emissions. For example, USA, amounting for just
about 5% of the world population, alone is responsible
for 30% of the total global carbon emission2. In general
the average per capita CO2 emissions by the developing
world stand at about 3.0 tons per year, however, related
figure for the developed/advanced nations is about 13-14
tons [3]. In the Indian context, CO2 emissions form just
about 1.2 ton per person [4]. Hence to cope with climate
change and adapt to its associated hazards, the United
Nations Climate Change Conference was held at the
Bella Center in Copenhagen, Denmark, between 7th and
18th December 2009-commonly known as the Copenha-
gen Summit. The general consensus of the conferenec
reached by 192 nations was that the changing climate
pattern was one of the greatest challenges con fronting th e
world today. However, this consensus was no way dif-
ferent from what had been discussed earlier during the
2007 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCCC) conference in Bali and twelve years
ago in Kyoto.
Before summarizing the debates at Copenhagen it is
important to remember here the gist of Kyoto protocol.
At Kyoto, 37 rich countries had pledged to reduce their
greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 5.2% at 1990 level;
however, the evidences showed that most of the countries
had in fact increased their emission levels and, as a con-
sequence, the climate change issue became an irreversi-
ble reality which no one could refute. As a result, the
advanced nations called for another summit meeting
Macro to micro Viewpoint of Climate Change—Linking Karnataka to Global Issue 23
which was hel d in Co penhagen.
Although at Copenhagen summit legally binding GHG
emissions cuts could not be imposed on the developing
countries despite the concerted efforts by some of the
developed countries to bring a countries like-China and
India in particularly under legally binding norms, the
general consensus was that if all the countries were in-
terested in avoiding “serious climate change effects”, it
would be necessary to undertake appropriate measures to
keep global warming to below 2˚C, though there was not
consensus on how to go about it. Now the global emis-
sions budget, capped by 2˚C guard rail, requires not only
the industrialized countries, but also the newly-Industri-
alizing and developing countries to adopt strategies to-
wards a low -carbon future [5]. In th e Indian context, this
requires a proper science-policy research for developing
policy responses intended for climate for different agro-
ecological regions and a carbon-dioxide (CO2) budget
approach based upon a systematic and empirical research.
Science-policy research would allow us to articulate and
argue for a proper carbon space for achieving the goal of
development without too many restrictions on the GHG
budget under a futu re treaty on climate change effects.
There are many studies/reports available at the na-
tional and global levels [1,2,5-26] that deal with climate
change and its potential impact on different sectors in a
holistic manner. India, with a huge diversity in land, to-
pography, climate and socioeconomic conditions, is di-
vided into 15 agro-ecological zones. Further, to help de-
velop location specific research and development strate-
gies at the micro level, a total of 127 sub-zones (agro-
climatic sub regions) have been identified in India [27].
In defining zonal boundaries several indicators (such as
water availability, soil types, rainfall and pattern of rain-
fall, edaphic factors, land use and land cover, area under
irrigation and rainfed, cropping pattern etc., were taken
into consideration [28]. Therefore, research on climate
change and its impact only at the national level may not
be a sound approach towards adaptation and mitigation
activities at the micro level. Several climate models have
predicted the global scenarios for climate in different
parts of the world. However, the significance and practi-
cal implementation of such mo d els at lo cal level yet to be
validated. This is because that meso-level models do not
consider region specific variables such as such as envi-
ronmental resources for example ‘land availability, local
climatic conditions, socioeconomic factors such as ‘labor
and capital’, policy aspects such as ‘subsidies, nature
conservation strategies’ and competition for labor and
capital in relation of ‘national economy’.
2. Farmers’ Decision and Complex Land
Use-Environmental System
Farmers act in complex environment and several driving
forces influence him to make his decision on land use [29]
Figure 1. Land use is one of the sectors highly vulner-
able to climate change. Changes in climatic conditions
have lots of adverse impacts on the land use and associ-
ated activities. Climate change influence farmers to de-
cide on land use. Farmers’ decision adjudicates for eco-
nomic success as well as ecological performance of the
chosen management systems. In rural landscape for the
land use management, farmer could choose one or sev-
eral criteria from different goals such as from the eco-
nomic goal and/or ecological goal. The achievement of
profitable economic goal in general found in priority of
farmers decision [30]. The land use is not an independent
sector but closely linked to the other sectors of the land-
scape thus influence the ecological resource flow in the
system. Therefore, meanwhile the impacts of land use
change and related land management practices on climate
(at micro level) have to be evaluated when we study the
impact of climate on the land use. The decision making
behaviour of farmers is centered on maximization of this
income from the existing resources available to his ease
of access. In this endeavor the investigations were made
to judge the attitude of the farmer towards overall sce-
nario changes and development [31,32]. Farmers assess
different conditions at the time - such as policy, demand
for the produce, resource availability etc. Among all the
options, farmer has to choose a few of them at higher
scale while visualizing their potential in way to secure
his livelihood in time to come. Farmers’ options are vary
from region to region, hence need to investigate all the
associated practices/background which directly or indi-
rectly influence the farmers’ behaviour. Farmers’ deci-
sion makes the overall impact on the landscape up to
certain extent [33]. The results of farmers’ decision on
the different branches of the landscape management need
to be evaluated in economic and ecological perspective.
This approach is to develop the general trend in land-
scape development and examine the magnitude to use the
resources such as land resource etc., and ch ange in use of
resource dynamics in time to time (for example collec-
tion of forest resources to sustain the traditional land use
etc.). Therefore, the analyzing tradeoffs of this nature
means that multiple indicators need to be evaluated si-
multaneously for the assessment of management strate-
gies and this is the key requirement to understand the
science behind the micro level case studies [34,35]. Em-
pirical field studies need to be undertaken that might help
us understand climate change impacts on the landscape
i.e. biodiversity, health, natural resource management,
land use and land cover development and the develop-
ment of socio-ecological systems.
3. Climate Change in Karnataka Perspective
In case of Karnataka, national-level projections on cli-
opyright © 2011 SciRes. NR
Macro to micro Viewpoint of Climate Change—Linking Karnataka to Global Issue
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. NR
1.Agriculture (AG)
2. Animal
Husbandry (AN)
3. Horticulture
4. Forest
Resour ces (FR)
5. Tourism (T)
Control /
Forest resources/ NTFPs
Population/ Migration
SeasonalPerman ent
Risk Factor
Decision regarding land use
Inv estm en t
Reso urce s
Cultur e
Figure 1. Complex rural ecosystem influence farmers’ decisions on land use thus influence the ecological resource flow.
mate change impacts have shown that the state is highly
vulnerable to climate change uncertainties which could
affect millions in rural and urban areas, in addition to
adversely impacting food production, water resources,
fisheries, biodiversity and liveliho ods of the co mmunities
dependent on the natural resources. Hence, there is a
need for a detailed identificatio n and analysis of the eco-
systems, dependent communities and production systems
that are vulnerable to climate change uncertainties. Kar-
nataka is divided into 10 agro-climatic zones viz., 1) North
East Transition. 2) North East Dry. 3) Northern Dry. 4)
Central Dry. 5) Eastern Dry. 6) Southern Dry. 7) Southern
Transition. 8) Western Transition. 9) Hill. 10) Coastal
Karnataka. Therefore, comparative studies ac ross different
agro-climatic zones of Karnataka are considered important
as that could help us draw some major conclusions
concerning climate change impact for developing better
strategies for rural, urban and peri-urban sustainable
landscapes development and conservation of biodiversity.
With regard to climate change research, there is a need to
formulate a research and policy framework including
carbon budgeting for carbon credits particularly to know
carbon ‘income’ and ‘expenditure’. In this process, spe-
cial attention needs to be given to the vulnerable groups
in our society, for example, rural farmers who emit al-
most negligible amount of carbon turn out to be the first
victims of climate change impact. In general, the pro-
jected impacts of climate change will be on both the
natural and socio-economic systems in Karnataka that
include-Food production systems, Water resources;
Fisheries, Forest ecosystems, Biodiversity, Coastal zones,
Health, and Energy sector. For example in case of food
production system Karnataka agriculture is one of the
most essential attributes of Karnataka economy. Agri-
culture in Karnataka has occupied around 19 million
hectares of land, out of which about 10.6 million hectares
of land is bein g cultivated in all the th ree seaso ns in a year
[36]. The main season for agriculture in Karnataka is
monsoon as irrigation is done below 28 percent of the total
cropped area. Thus the agriculture sector is likely to be
more affected by climate change. This poses a challenge to
the state due to its dependence on climate-sensitive eco-
nomic activities and predominantly in practicing rain-
sustained agricultural activities. With in the broader
framework there is a need to understand the interface
between policy and science-addressing climate change
and agriculture in Karnataka to enhance the dialogue
between scientists and policy makers for better policy
formulations. Similar attention need to be given to other
natural and socioeconomic sectors.
As mentioned in the previous section of this article,
globally, many studies are available, but the impact of
climate change at the micro level along with adaptation
and mitigation strategies is yet to be studied in detail
Macro to micro Viewpoint of Climate Change—Linking Karnataka to Global Issue 25
[37-38]. Hence, the issues concerning landscape manage-
ment (land use and cover), human health, human and
ecosystem interactions, livelihood development of the
people, natural resource management and biodiversity
conservation in various parts of Karnataka need to be
prioritized from the perspective of climate change re-
search. The approach needs to be strengthened to gener-
ate a better understanding of all the stakeholders and
provide required information for advanced research and
training in socioecological sciences for improving the
quality of life of the people whose livelihoods are based
on climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture, fisheries,
animal husbandry, forest products etc.
In response to a suggestion made by the Prime Minis-
ter, Dr. Man Mohan Singh, for State governments to
prepare a state level climate policy plan, Karnataka has a
better opportunity for mitigating climate change effects
through the spread of energy use efficiency and renew-
able energy technologies along with large-scale affore-
station activities so as to facilitate sustainab le use of bio-
diversity and environmental flows. But, in the meantime,
various reports show that communities and habitats in
Western transition, Southern transition, Hill, Low-lying
and Coastal areas, Arid & Semi-arid regions of Karna-
taka may get increasingly exposed to climate change
impacts that are interacting with urbanization, develop-
ment, and pollution in the 21st century and beyond.
Therefore, from an aggregate perspective, following
points need to be addressed for devising a holistic plan
with regard to climate change uncertainty in Karnataka.
To identify climate variables for assessing the impact of
climate change-sensitivity, adaptive capacity, vulnerabil-
ity; to document assumptions, choices and the limits of
scientific knowledge on climate change across different
agroclimatic zones of Karnataka and enhance communi-
cation between researchers, policy makers and stake-
holders; to develop an action plan for climate change
adaptation and mitigation, identification and assessment
of vulnerability towards climate change for different
sectors of Karnataka (agriculture, water bodies, forests,
energy); to synthesize a knowledge base (scientific and
traditional ecological knowledge) on climate change in
support of decision making, communication and imple-
mentation; to quantify the carbon budget of rural, peri-
urban and urban landscap es in Karnataka for encourag ing
low-carbon high growth and carbon credits in the global
carbon market; to develop strategies for predicting the
outcomes of climate changes on land use, forestry, fish-
eries, water & energy sectors, sustainable livelihood de-
velopment of people and biodiversity conservation and
natural resource management.
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