The future belongs to the Tropics
On 29 June 2014, the inaugural ‘State of the Tropics Report’ was launched to culminate a collaboration between twelve leading tropical research institutions. The UN in 2016 declared 29 June to be observed as the International Day of the Tropics to mark the anniversary of the report’s launch. The observation is a celebration of the extraordinary diversity of the tropics, raising awareness and highlighting unique challenges and opportunities nations of the Tropics face. Tropical countries play an important role in achieving Sustainable Development Goals. The word “tropical” sometimes refers to this sort of climate rather than to the geographical zone. The idea of tropicality gained further interest after French geographer Pierre Gourou published Les Pays Tropicaux (The Tropical World) in the late 1940s.
The tropics are those parts of the Earth that are close to the centre of the planet and lie between the tropic of Cancer and the tropic of Capricorn. Tropical locations are warm and experience little seasonal change in day-to-day temperature. Near the equator, it is the prevalence of rain in the moist inner regions. The seasonality of rainfall increasing with the distance from the equator. The Tropical region accounts for 40% of the world’s total surface area and hosts ~80% of the world’s biodiversity. 95% of the world’s mangrove forests by area and 99% of mangrove species are found in Tropics. The sun directly overhead at least once during a year in the tropics. They receive more direct sunlight and are generally hotter and wetter. Deserts and snow-capped mountains also form the tropical zones, which are not tropical in the climatic sense.
Climate change and deforestation are amongst the diverse challenges to tropical regions are. Tropical forests play an essential role in climate change, providing the essential service of carbon sequestration, storing approximately 25% of the world’s carbon. The rate at which the world is losing forests and change in land use contributes to global warming and increased carbon emissions.
You who sacrifice fortunes to see the luxuriance of the tropics or the polar lights of the arctic must pay more dearly to see the One for whom the luxuriance of the tropics is poverty, and the polar lights are a tallow candle.Nikolaj Velimirović
Tropical countries remaining underdeveloped is a cause of concern. Population explosion, ensuring food security and increasing natural disasters are threatening the fragile ecosystems of the tropics. Poverty is a challenge the nations of the tropics encounter, and the levels are higher than the rest of the world. According to the UN, the world’s most vulnerable communities are in the Tropics. It is estimated that by 2050, the Tropics region will host most of the world’s population and approximately two-thirds of its children. Modernisation and industrialisation, and resultant population growth are resulting in facing several challenges. Despite possessing over half of the world’s renewable water resources, the population in the tropics are vulnerable to water stress.
Even though the boundary between the tropics and subtropics, the Tropic of Cancer, passes through the middle of India, the bulk of the country can be regarded as climatically tropical. This is because monsoonal and other weather patterns in India can be strongly variable. Droughts, heatwaves, floods, cyclones cause hardships to the citizens. Vegetative changes, sea-level rise, and India’s low-lying coastal inundation are some of the challenges India must tackle.