Socio-ecological System Functioning Under Changing Climate: An Impact Assessment
S Srikantaswamy1*, M. R. Abhilash1, Appaji Gowda2, Alaa Swamy1 and K Jagadish1
1Department of Studies in Environmental Science, University of Mysore, India
2Department of Anthropology, Karnataka State Open University, India
Submission: February 10, 2021;Published: March 02, 2021
*Corresponding author: S Srikantaswamy, University of Mysore, Manasagangotri, Mysore 570006, India
How to cite this article: S Srikantaswamy, M. R. Abhilash, Appaji G, Alaa S, K Jagadish. Socio-ecological System Functioning Under Changing Climate: An
Impact Assessment. Int J Environ Sci Nat Res. 2021; 27(3): 556211. DOI:10.19080/IJESNR.2021.27.556211
This study aims to explore the impact of climate change on sustainable development in Mysore district using recent survey-based data. The study was conducted based on the perception of the respondents of 7 taluks in Mysore District. A total of 384 respondents were surveyed following stratified random sampling. It was determined based on the Krejcie & Morgan’s  sample size calculation, based on p = 0.05 where the probability of committing type I error is less than 5 % or p < 0.05, the results identified that the impact of climate change perceived by respondents included ten major components viz. crop nature, soil condition, water crisis, pest incidence, disease menace, agro climatic status, economic fluctuations, social situation, health statusque and psychological grief. Each major component has been studied with subcomponents. Each major and sub components were subjected to standardization procedure. After the standardization process, responses were obtained from the respondents on three-point continuum scale. (Fully perceived, partially perceived, not perceived) and with the scores of 3, 2 and 1 respectively. Mean scores were computed for each of the components and average mean scores were obtained. The index range for various subcomponents, crop nature (0.702), soil condition (0.689), water crisis (0.706), pest incidence (0.646), disease menace (0.625), agro climatic status (0.755), economic fluctuations (0.920), social situation (0.597), health statuesque (0.467) and psychological grief (0.614).
Keywords: Climate change; Sustainable development; Mysore district
Climate change has been predicted to exert severe impacts on agriculture, economy and livelihoods in developing countries. India highly vulnerable to the problem because a large portion of its population depends on climate sensitive sectors like agriculture and forestry for livelihood [2-5]. By adversely affecting freshwater availability and quality, biodiversity and desertification, climate change tends to disproportionately affect the poorest in the society, exacerbating inequities in access to food, water and health. The capacity to adapt is a function of access to wealth, scientific and technical knowledge, information, skills, infrastructure, institutions and equity and therefore varies among regions and socio-economic groups . Climate change therefore is intrinsically linked to other environmental issues and to the challenge of sustainable development .
India is considered to be especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to the present of an extraordinary variety of climatic regions, ranging from tropical in the south to temperate
and alpine in the Himalayan north, where elevated regions receive sustained winter snowfall [7-9]. The northern part of the country has a continental climate with severe summer conditions that alternates with cold winters when temperatures plunge to freezing point. In contrast are the coastal regions of the country, where the warmth is unvarying and the rains are frequent. Climate change is likely to affect all the natural ecosystems as well as socio-economic systems as shown by the National Communications Report of India to the UNFCCC . Various studies have indicated a probability of 10 to 40 per cent loss in crop production in the country due to the anticipated rise in temperature by 2080 .
In India, climate change is leading to additional stress on ecological and socio-economic systems that are already facing tremendous pressures due to rapid urbanization, industrialization and economic development . India is at a high risk because of its huge and growing population, a 7500-km long densely populated and low-lying coastline and an economy that is
closely tied to its natural resource base, India is considered to
be especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Like
most other developing countries, people in India are dependent
to a large extent on its natural resources for livelihood and
economy. For example, more than 56% of workers are engaged in
agriculture and allied sectors, while many others earn their living
in coastal areas through tourism or fishing. Any adverse impacts
on these natural resources will have repercussion on the nation’s
livelihood security and economy and widen the gap between the
rich and the poor . Most of India’s poorest people live in rural
areas and are almost totally reliant on natural resources for their
food, shelter and incomes [13,14]. In fact, the poor are already
experiencing the impacts of climate change, with few resources to
cope up with. Diminishing water resources, and frequent natural
disasters are some of such problems, apart from the other existing
problems which will be further aggravated by climate change. The
problem is that nearly all the alleged negative consequences of
climate change are in fact problems that we face today. Future
changes in climate may or may not make these problems worse,
but the fact remains that unless they are addressed directly, they
will continue to remain problems, regardless of attempts to limit
human impacts on the climate . This study aims to explore the
perceived impact of climate change on sustainable development
in Mysore district from the respondent’s perspectives.
The study was conducted in seven taluks (Division) of Mysore
District, India (Figure 1). Mysore district is situated in the south
of the Karnataka state between 11° 60” to 21° 17” North latitude
and 75° 19” to 77° 77” East longitude. The district covers a total
geographical area of 6307km2, which 3.57 per cent of the state’s
total geographical area. It is bounded by Mandya district to the
northeast, Chamarajanagara district to the southeast, Kerala state
to the south, Kodagu district to the west, and Hassan district to the
north. Mysore city is the headquarters of the district.
The sample size representative of the farmers in this study
is 384. It was determined based on the Krejcie and Morgan’s 
sample size calculation, based on p = 0.05 where the probability of
committing type I error is less than 5 % or p < 0.05.
The calculated total sample was 384 respondents, and further
calculations were undertaken to determine the sample size that
needed to be taken from each taluk as shown in Table 1. The
criteria followed in the selection of respondents is the head of
householders who are working as a Cultivators or Agricultural
labourers distributed across all parts of the taluk – North, South,
East and West. The data were collected by using a well-structured
and pre-tested interview schedule. The collected data were
tabulated and analyzed by using suitable statistical tools (SPSS
22), and the salient findings of the study are summarized as
follows in the results section.
Fifteen major components were identified for the assessment
of perceived impact index of climate change. According to the
assessment of the components and subcomponents, we specified
whether each of the identified indicators was felt relevant and
suitable for inclusion to assess the perceived impact of climate
change. The responses were scored on a three-point continuum
viz., ‘most relevant’, ‘relevant’ and ‘least relevant’, and scored as 2,
1 and 0, respectively. then the responses were analyzed and the
relevancy weightage (RW) of ith indicator (RWi) was worked out
by using the following formula.
Considering the relevancy weightage scores, the components
were screened. Accordingly, components having relevancy
weightage score ranging more than 0.75 alone were considered.
Using this process, ten components were selected (Table 2).
The study aimed at assessing the perceived impact of climate
change on sustainable development amongst the respondents. It
was essential to include the identified major components (Table
3) to reflect the wholesome perceived impact of climate change so
as to construct the index for this purpose.
After the finalization of major components, sub-components
for each major component were identified, Thus, the ten major
components and their subcomponents were selected to assess the
perceived impact of climate change among the respondents.
Perceived impact assessment index of climate change for
respondents was obtained by adding the total scores of each
indicator and its subdivision like Crop nature, Soil condition,
Water crisis, Pest incidence, Disease menace, Agro climatic
status, Economic fluctuations, Social situation, Health statusque,
Psychological grief. It has been calculated by adopting the following
mathematical formulae. The procedure had been followed with
slight modifications as adopted by Ganesan , Ranganathan
, Mansingh , Palmurugan  and Sakunthalai . The
scoring procedure on the operationalization are given below:
Crop nature index is a measure of individual’s perception on
impact of climate change on respondents ie, changes in cropping
system, harvesting time, crop growing season etc. The CNi was
worked out by using the formula as given below
Climate impact perceived responses for the identified ten
indicators were obtained from respondents on three-point
continuum. From the obtained scores, indicator-wise indexes
were worked out. The results are presented in Table 4.
From the above table 4, it could be seen that the composite
perceived impact index on climate change worked out was 0.672.
The index range for various subcomponents, crop nature (0.702),
soil condition (0.689), water crisis (0.706), pest incidence (0.646),
disease menace (0.625), agro climatic status (0.755), economic
fluctuations (0.920), social situation (0.597), health statusque
(0.467) and psychological grief (0.614).
To comprehend, economic fluctuations, crop nature, soil
condition, water crisis, agro climatic status were in higher index
value than the composite perceived impact index. Hence it is
clear that economic fluctuations were highly perceived by the
respondents when compare with all other impacts of climate
change. Further it could be understood that climate change impact
on crop nature, soil, water, agro climate status were also perceived
by the respondents.
Climate change is clearly recognized as a major threat to
agricultural systems. The expected increase in temperature,
atmospheric CO2, heavy and unseasonal rains, increased humidity,
and drought are likely to affect crops. The findings with respect to
perceived impact of climate change on crop nature are mentioned
in Table 5.
It is inferred from Table 5 that the average mean score worked
out for the impact of climate change on crop nature was 1.966,
where the sub items, crop destruction and changes in cropping
growing season as identified with higher mean score of 2.175 and
2.116 respectively. The other sub item’s mean scores fell below
the average mean score
Climate change is perceived as a serious threat to crops eco
systems. Study area is situated near to the Cauvery river basin
and is extremely vulnerable to the vagaries of weather. Due to
erratic rainfall in quantity and distribution, and the area is often
subjected to drought which results in crop destruction. Monsoon
failure and shifting of monsoon may adversely affect the crop
The findings pertinent to the perceived impact of climate
change on soil have been presented in Table 6.
The data presented in Table 6 reveals that the average
mean score worked out for the impact of climate change on soil condition was 1.939, whereas the sub items, reduced soil nutrient
content and increased soil salinity secured higher mean score of
2.145 and 2.105 respectively. The other sub item’s mean scores
had fallen below the average mean score.
It could be understood from the above result that most of the
respondents perceived that reduced soil nutrient and increased
soil salinity were the major impact due to climate change. Changing
rainfall pattern might lead to the reduction of water in streams,
rivers, water bodies and likely to result in high deposition of salt
concentration in the water bodies. Increase in soil salinity might
lead to decline vegetation cover. In turn, this may lead to decline in
soil organic matter, which are generally dependent on inputs from
above-ground vegetation. Soil salinity may also directly affect the
soil biodegrades, leading to significant changes in soil properties,
especially nutrient levels.
Respondents’ perception on the consequential effect of
climate change on water resources was measured and the results
have been furnished in Table 7.
It could be seen from Table 7 that irrigation water shortage
(2.335), increased water salinity (2.245) and deterioration of
water nutrients (2.245) were the major impact perceived by
respondents. The average mean score of the impact of climate
change on water condition was 2.120.
Frequent rainfall with prolonged drought, variation in the
temperature and less ground water potential leads to water
scarcity. Greater salinity in irrigated water sources is one of the
major problems that affect crop cultivation.
Perceived impacts of climate change on pest problems like
pest outbreak, arrival of new pest etc. were measured and the
findings have been presented in Table 8.
From Table 8, it could be observed that the average mean
score of pest incidence was 1.818. Most of the respondents
perceived that the pest outbreak (2.180), infestation of stem
borer (1.920) and plant hoppers (1.841) have been intense due
to climatic variation. Moreover, leaf folder infestation (1.801)
and Leaf hoppers infestation (1.800) were also perceived by the
respondents. Climate change influences the ecology and biology
of insects. Increased temperature, moisture might adversely
affect specific pest species and could result in proliferation of
destructive pest population.
Perceived impact of climate change on plant diseases like disease outbreak, occurrence of new diseases etc. were assessed
and the results are shown in Table 9.
It is inferred from Table 9 that the average mean score of
disease menace was 1.805. Disease outbreak (2.201), false smut
(1.821) and infection of sheath blight (1.800) were the major
impact of climatic variation perceived by respondents.
Rise in temperature affects the pollination in crop which
results in poor grain setting. Fungal diseases are common and can
spread via spores carried by wind. Dispersal plays a key role in the
spread of crop disease. Crop diseases are often spread through an
insect vector. Insect population could become more prolific and
widespread variation occurs in temperature. If pests live longer
and reproduce more, it could spread crop diseases into new
respondents’ perceived impacts of climate change on agro
climatic conditions were assessed and the results have been
presented in Table 10.
From Table 10, it could be observed that the average mean
score of agro climatic status was 2.199. Severe drought (2.650),
reduction of No. of rainy days (2.630) and rise in temperature
(2.305) were major impact perceived by respondents. Increased
climate variability would increase the risk of droughts. Severe
drought has led to the hardening of the land in the worst-affected
provinces, which would increase the chances of rain or even light
Perceived impact of respondents on the extent to which the
climate change affects the crop yield, income, cost of cultivation,
input cost etc were worked out and the findings are presented in
From Table 11, it could be observed that decreased crop
yields (2.915) and decreased annual income from crop (2.870)
were secured high mean score under the criteria of economic
fluctuations. Severe drought and occurrence of uneven rainfall
resulted in crop loss, increased soil and water salinity and
deterioration of nutrient content reduced the crop yield which
reduced annual income.
Climate change is an inevitable phenomenon which influences
the social conditions of the respondents. Hence an attempt was
made to study the perceived impact of climate change on social
condition and the findings are presented in Table 12.
Table 12 reveals that the average mean score worked out for
the criteria of social condition was 1.791, where the sub items,
better relations was developed with extension workers and
increased organizational participation secured higher mean score
of 2.185 and 2.060 respectively. The other sub item’s mean scores
fell below the average mean score.
The people in vulnerable area seek technical guidance to
understand the risky and complex nature of technologies with
respect to climate change adaptation. Hence to cope with climatic
change they developed better relations with extension workers
and increase their organizational participation.
The findings pertinent to the perceived impact of climate
change on health status have been presented in Table 13.
It is inferred from Table 13 that the average mean score
worked out for the impact of climate change on human health was 1.404. Vector borne diseases and diarrheal diseases were secured
higher mean score of 1.870 and 1.615 respectively. Hence it could
be understood that majority of the respondents perceived that the
vector borne and diarrhoea diseases were spread among them at
the time of natural calamities.
Climate change creates critical public health problem which
makes many existing diseases and conditions worse, it may
also introduce new pests and pathogens into new regions or
communities. When the extreme climate change become more
frequent and intense the water and food were subjected to
contaminate which resulted in transmission of diarrheal diseases.
Climate change is likely to have significant and negative
effects on mental health and well-being, which will be felt most
by vulnerable populations and those with pre-existing serious
mental illness. An attempt was made to measure the perception
of respondents on psychological impact of climate change and the
results have been presented in Table 14.
It is observed from the Table 14 the average mean score of
the psychological impact of climate change was 1.969, where the
sub item depression (2.585), anxiety and worry (2.485) were the
major impact perceived by respondents due to climate change.
Extreme climatic events affect the crop growth which resulted
in crop failure, yield reduction and reduced annual income of the
farmers, which may create depression, anxiety and worry among
them. Even in the absence of direct impacts, the perception and
fear of climate change may threaten mental health.
As per perceived impact index analysis, crop destruction and
decreased annual income from crop nature were experienced
by majority of the respondents due to climate change. Hence,
identification and popularization of alternative cropping system
in the study area would help the affected farmers to cope with
adverse climatic condition.
Reduced soil nutrient content was one of the major impacts
perceived by respondents. Therefore, in order to improve the
organic carbon content of the soil the importance of organic
manures, vermiculture, biofertilizers, biopesticides has to be
popularized for conserving soil fertility.
Most of the respondents perceived that pest and disease
outbreaks were the severe problem due to climate change. Hence,
an effort should be made by the scientists and extension agencies
to evolve suitable pest and disease management system at the
time of risky situation in the study area.
Drought monitoring system has to be established. Droughtrelated
monitoring and reporting activities provide a baseline
of information and provide a barometer of change in climatic
conditions that may indicate the inception of drought. Strategic
drought monitoring can be achieved by using drought indicators.
Most of the respondents reported that crop failure, yield
reduction and reduced annual income creates depression, anxiety
and worry among them. Hence, Counsellors, psychologists and
other mental health providers help educate people about normal
responses to extreme stress, they should work with individuals
affected by disaster and trauma to find constructive ways of
dealing with the emotional impact.
Therefore, issues related to environment, development,
climate change and disasters risks have emerged out of the
imbalance which are occurring due to unplanned human
interventions. Environment has become more fragile and risks
prone. Thus, the solutions must flow from an integrated framework
and it is equally important that all the stakeholders-national and
international must work together in respect of policy, legislation
and programs on the ground so that the disturbed equilibrium of
the climate is restored or otherwise the consequences would be
much more disastrous.
Currently, there is little definitive research on what the
impacts of climate change will be on different sectors of the Indian
economy and people. A technically robust analysis is required
to understand the feasibility and opportunities of low and
continued high carbon growth paths and the effects of mitigation
mechanisms. A more participatory debate involving political
representatives, civil society actors and the bureaucracy, both at
the national and sub-national level is needed to build a national
consensus. The seriousness of climate change impacts, necessity,
and options for adaptation and mitigation policies need to be
discussed with all stakeholders. A better knowledge base and a
more inclusive debate will allow India to take a more informed
view on climate change both domestically and internationally and
build broader support for implementing what are bound to be
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